Homes for our Troops – Community Kickoff for SSG Oscar Guerra
Mid-last year my wife says to me “Instead of just running in circles, why don’t you make every mile count?” She had just found Home for our Troops (HFOT), a non-profit organization that not only builds and donates specially adapted homes for severely injured post-9/11 veterans, but also provides fundraising support for runners. For the record, I like to run on any kind of course – not just circles! And through the donation of family and friends, we’ve raised over $2,500 while I’ve run the Austin Distance Challenge this 2021-2022 season (this is the link to our HFOT DIY page). This past weekend (Saturday, January 29, 2022), we were privileged to be invited to see the fruits of that labor – the community kickoff for the building of a home for Staff Sergeant Oscar Guerra.
HFOT has built more than 300 homes across the country, and is approaching 50 homes built in Texas. Veterans can pick where they want to live – not from a list, but actually pick a neighborhood.
On Aug. 2, 2007, Staff Sergeant Oscar Guerra was on his second deployment serving as an Infantryman with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, which his vehicle drove over an improvised explosive device (IED) near Baghdad International Airport (BIAP). The explosion caused severe injuries to SSG Guerra’s left leg, and doctors immediately amputated it at a Baghdad hospital after his medical evaluation.Document from the Community Kickoff
The Community Kickoff event was held at the Village Venue off Central Plaza in New Braunfels, Texas. After cheering and flag waving training by HFOT master of ceremonies Mell B (we were in need of training), SSG Guerra and his family were escorted in via a procession led by local veterans motorcycle organizations, local fire and police, and a mounted color guard.
On horseback the Texas Thunder Drill Team followed the motorcycle escort, presenting the colors.
The motorcycle escort included members of the Brothers in Arms Motorcycle Club.
Moving inside the venue, Jerry Ramirez, VP of the Brothers In Arms Motorcycle Club, presented Oscar with a check from their fundraising for $7,000. We’ve raised $2,500 thus far from running the Austin Distance Challenge, so we’ve a ways to go to catch up to the great work of Brothers In Arms.
This was followed by a series of speakers who were sponsors, local officials, HFOT board folks and, most importantly, veterans who had been recipients of Homes for our Troops’ homes. The session ended with SSG Guerra speaking.
- Rob Gowan, Veteran Relations Director for State Senator Donna Campbell (R)
- Scott Thomas– Branch Manager, AmCap Home Loans
- Johnny Mojica, Manager of Public Affairs/Tournament of Champions, H-E-B
- HFOT Board Director Matt Andresen
- Board Ambassador General Rick Lynch
- Adam Putt, HFOT Home Recipient- personal speaker
- Tony Doyle- Vet Rep
- Bill Ivey, HFOT Executive Director
- Oscar Guerra
The HFOT home recipients all mentioned what “specially adapted” homes meant, and what they’d experienced in their own HFOT home. Whether it was hallways and doorways wide enough for a wheelchair, or cabinets that were reachable, or showers and bathtubs that were easier to get in – it was obvious the thought and detail that went into designing these homes specifically for each of these veterans needs.
I am not a veteran. My grandfather was in the 128th Machine Gun Battalion in World War I. My step-father was a Major in the Army in Vietnam, and was in the Coast Guard. I’m not a veteran, but I am a runner. And I’m glad that Homes for our Troops “makes every mile count” by enabling me to smoothly raise funds for the great work they do. I encourage other runners looking for tools to raise money as they run to visit the HFOT website to see sponsor races and DIY information.