Iraq War veteran gets the keys to his new East El Paso, Texas home
El Paso Times, Texas
EL PASO, Texas — Retired Army Sgt. Alfredo "Freddy" Gutierrez Jr. could not hold back his tears when he and and his family received the keys to their new home in East El Paso on Monday.
"I'm very, very excited. I'm happy and I'm still in shock as well," said Gutierrez, after walking around his new
three-bedroom house for the first time.
Gutierrez, 33, joined the Army in 2004, but it was in 2009 that his armored gun truck was hit by an explosive during a convoy escort mission in Iraq.
As a result, Gutierrez suffered a traumatic brain injury and short-term memory loss. He was also diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
"It affected me a lot. I was not the same," he said. "It affected my abilities to help out others."
For his injuries, Gutierrez received the Purple Heart.
Three years after the attack, Gutierrez continues his recovery and efforts to move his family forward.
Gutierrez is a father of two children and currently attends El Paso Community College where he studies
medical information technology. His goal is to help other soldiers, he said.
Because of his deployment to Iraq, Gutierrez had to face different challenges, including having to postpone the purchase of a home.
About two months ago, other soldiers told Gutierrez about the Home for Wounded Heroes program. Gutierrez filed the application without thinking he was going to be selected, he said.
He still can not believe he owns a house, Gutierrez said.
Ken Eakes, executive director of Military Warriors Support Foundation, described Gutierrez as a "true hometown hero."
"We are very proud of our program and our relationship with Bank of America, but most of all we are proud that heroes like you are able to get a new start," Eakes told Gutierrez during the key ceremony.
Military Warriors Support Foundation works directly with the military to identify soldiers in need of a house.
Soldiers must submit an application and must be a veteran wounded in combat to qualify, Eakes said.
Eakes said Gutierrez's home is the first of four the foundation will give to soldiers in El Paso. The other three will awarded in the next few months, he said.
Terri Garcia, marketing president of Bank of America, said the donation of Gutierrez's home is one of 1,000 that Bank of America is making available to nonprofit organizations across the country this year.
Who can apply
- Must be a combat wounded veteran (Purple Heart recipient preferred) or unmarried Gold Star Spouse of OEF/OIF.
- Must be honorably retired or separated from the military.
- Must not have a mortgage.
- Information: militarywarriors.org
Source: Military Warriors Support Foundation.