College Republicans raise money, awareness for wounded veteran

Retired U.S. Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 4 Duane Ledford receives the keys to his mortgage-free home. Wells Fargo donated the home to the Military Warriors Support Foundation’s Homes4WoundedHeroes program. A home will be given to a wounded veteran in Alabama during Saturday’s football game.

Many soldiers return home from war forever changed. One such soldier, a wounded three-tour combat veteran, will find out at the UNA vs. West Alabama game Nov. 14 he is the owner of a mortgage-free home. This soldier is a Purple Heart recipient, a husband and father of three.

President of College Republicans Nathaniel White said the campus group is working with the national organization Military Warriors Support Foundation (MWSF) to provide this home and present it to the soldier Saturday.

The Saturday after Veterans Day seemed like the perfect opportunity, he said.

In their program, called “Homes 4 Wounded Heroes,” the foundation awards mortgage-free homes to combat-wounded heroes injured while serving our country. The homes, foreclosures donated by Wells Fargo, are for families who have severe or unique circumstances due to injuries received while serving. This is just one of six programs MWSF provides for wounded warriors.

The College Republicans have held fundraisers and reached out to the community in order to raise the money to provide the home, White said.

“What we’re doing is raising $20,000 to sponsor a hero,” he said. “We have a house lined up. That was the first big hurdle. I have full faith we’re going to pull this together.”

Senior Ryan Vaccaro said he thinks the MWSF and College Republicans are doing a good thing.

“If this individual has trouble supporting his family because of his time in the military and the sacrifices he’s made, giving a house to him is amazing,” he said.

Economics Instructor David Black, adviser for College Republicans, first became aware of MWSF and its efforts when he saw a home given away at Murray State University.

“It was a very moving, emotional event,” he said.

Black said he wanted to do something similar here in Florence, so he began working on it about 1 1/2 years ago.

He brought the idea to College Republicans, and White has been working on it since summer, he said.

White said his organization raised money to cover the cost of the house, repairs, property taxes and other fees.

“The most important part, which is the majority of where the money goes, is a three-year financial advisement and family mentoring program,” he said.

Many military members find it difficult to live a life outside the military, he said.

“We see these people fall through the cracks,” he said.

Junior Alisha Ricketts said her family has had several military members throughout the years, and she supports the idea of giving a wounded veteran a house.

“I think it’s a really good idea. I have a lot of family that have been in the military. They all came back fine, but other vets don’t come back in great shape.”

MWSF provides soldiers with a mentoring program to help them reduce debt, learn to invest, pay bills on time and even provides family counseling, White said.

“They really get you on your feet and make sure you are able to sustain yourself,” he said.

MWSF gives homes away all over the country, he said. In addition, the foundation gives 98 percent of received donations to wounded warriors.

Black said they hope to present the house between the first and second quarters of the game.

“It’s going to be a really powerful moment for that family,” White said. “I think it will be a powerful moment for everybody at the game.”

Black said he feels this is a worthwhile project and a wonderful way to thank our warriors.

“These people fight for the nation as a whole,” White said. “You don’t go to war to fight for Florence, Alabama. You go to war to fight for the U.S.”