An Alamo veteran and his family broke ground on their new mortgage-free home after being selected by Courtesy Custom Homes, H-E-B, McCoy’s Building Supply and Operation FINALLY HOME.
U.S. Army Specialist Jacob Sanchez, his wife, Sam, and their six children were taken by surprise via Zoom in March when they were informed that they had been selected to receive their custom-built home.
Sanchez and his family are the third family in the Rio Grande Valley to be selected by Operation FINALLY HOME, whose mission is “to turn a hero’s hardships into a home.”
“We know that it’s not just the veteran that serves but also the entire family, so we can’t thank you for that enough,” Rosita Juvera, founder and chief financial officer of Courtesy Custom Homes, said just before giving the family the news.
The Sanchezes were under the impression that they were being interviewed as part of a preliminary part of the selection process and were overjoyed when they learned they had been chosen as the winning family. Their reactions can be seen on YouTube.
“There are no words, just overwhelming gratitude,” Sanchez said.
The family will build their custom home in Alamo and will be able to move within the next six to eight months, according to Lee Kirgen, VP project manager for Operation FINALLY HOME.
What qualified Sanchez for this opportunity was his story and honors he received while serving.
He spent two years after college as a missionary before joining the Army in 2009 as a cavalry scout, initially stationed in Ft. Knox, Kentucky.
According to a news release, on July 5, 2011, while serving in Afghanistan, Sanchez’s unit was attacked by insurgents with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire.
As the gunner for his lead truck crew, he began returning fire to enemy forces.
While under attack, his weapon jammed, leaving Sanchez’s crew and truck vulnerable to enemy fire.
The news release said he jumped on top of his truck, exposing himself to enemy fire, but luckily was able to unjam his weapon.
Sanchez’s weapon jammed a second time while his unit was being attacked on all sides.
Due to heavy enemy fire, he was not able to unjam his weapon as he had before. At that time, a truck commander in a neighboring vehicle was killed, leaving Sanchez feeling responsible for his death.
The U.S. Army specialist suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic migraine headaches, according to the release.
Sanchez began his transition to civilian life in 2013 when he was medically retired with an honorable discharge after sustaining a traumatic brain injury that went untreated and undiagnosed.
For his service, Sanchez received awards including a Combat Action Badge, Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal and more.
Operation FINALLY HOME was looking for an applicant in the Valley and found Sanchez to be the perfect candidate. They hope their contribution will help show veterans their importance to the community, Juvera said.
“McAllen is a special place for us,” Kirgen said. “Every time I’ve come to McAllen for one of our projects it feels like home, the people are so open, warm and friendly. They are so generous and there’s an obvious love and respect for our military veterans.”
The operation is looking to support more families in the years to come and encourages veterans to apply for future projects at operationfinallyhome.org.