Marine Corps veteran Kevin Blanchard and his wife Myra moved into their new home on Lavaca Court in Westlake Hills Sept. 30, courtesy of Homes For Our Troops, a nonprofit organization that donates custom-adapted houses to severely injured veterans.
Now medically retired, Cpl. Blanchard was on patrol in northwest Iraq in 2005 when his vehicle struck a roadside bomb. Blanchard lost most of his left leg and suffered serious damage to his right.
Built at a cost of $440,000 and transferred to Blanchard mortgage-free, the house includes more than 40 special adaptations such as wider doors, a roll-in shower and kitchen modifications designed for wheelchair users.
The transfer ceremony hosted by HFOT featured remarks by interim county executive Doug Walker, who lives across the street, as well as others involved in building or donating to the project.
Chair of the HFOT board Gen. Richard A. Cody noted that the organization has built 247 houses across the country so far and is currently building in 37 states.
“As we travel around, the further we get from New York and Washington, D.C., we get to see America the way American see themselves.” He congratulated the crowd for not kneeling when the National Anthem was sung. “You would have been thrown out,” he said.
“We don’t consider that we are doing charity. We think we are doing our duty [to the wounded soldiers],” Cody said. “This is truly a work of love. Everywhere we go, the community puts its arms around our veterans. We can do more when we unite behind something.”
Turning to Blanchard, Cody said, “The commandant sends his regards. No, really! He does! I talked to him about you.” Cody noted that Blanchard has undergone 30 surgeries and was in a wheelchair for eight months. After getting out of Walter Reed Hospital, Blanchard backpacked through South America.
“We could not be more proud to give this new home to you.”
When she got a turn to speak, Myra Blanchard thanked the crowd and HFOT. “We got married last year a few miles from here. We have just grown more in love with this town. We look forward to serving in this community and giving back. We are incredibly grateful.”
“We made it. We’re here,” said Kevin Blanchard, facing Myra, when the microphone was his. “This home is perfect for us. It’s going to our favorite place to be. It’s a place where we can start our family.” Meanwhile they’ve added an eight-week-old mastiff dog to the household.
“All the pain—I wouldn’t change a thing,” said Blanchard. I’m a product of post-traumatic growth. We really, really appreciate it. We look forward to living in this community. We love you, and thank you.”
Blanchard is writing about his recovery and working on a website where other survivors can post their stories about how their experiences changed them for the better. “Stay positive. Stay curious. Don’t give up. Try to turn the negatives into positives,” Blanchard summed up.
The ceremony then moved to raising an American flag on the house’s flagpole. “Every house we build flies the American flag 24-7,” said Gen. Cody as he offered the flag to Blanchard.
Fifteen-year-old Sophia Nadder of Midlothian, who sang the National Anthem (and has for the Washington Nationals and Wizards games, as well Gov. McAuliffe’s inauguration) started off “God Bless America” as the flag rose and the crowd joined in.
Guests then toured the house, where Texas Roadhouse restaurant provided a reception spread.
The construction was done by Travis Haislip Construction.