American Morning

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March 12th, 2010
06:00 AM ET

CNN Heroes: Building free homes for wounded vets

By Kathleen Toner, CNN

Houston, Texas (CNN) - Alexander Reyes' boyhood dream of a military career ended when he was hit by an improvised explosive device during a patrol two years ago in Baghdad.

"Laying in that hospital bed ... sometimes I felt I'd rather [have] died," Reyes said. "My life came to a complete halt."

Reyes sustained severe blast injuries that led to his medical discharge; he's on 100 percent medical disability. Like many soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, Reyes, now 24, found the transition to civilian life difficult.

But he and a handful of other injured veterans are getting help from what may seem an unlikely source: a custom home builder in Houston, Texas.

Dan Wallrath recently presented Reyes and his wife with an unexpected gift: a home built especially for them, mortgage-free.

"Thank you. That's all I can say," Elizabeth Reyes said, sobbing and clutching her stunned husband's arm as Wallrath surprised them with the house.

For Wallrath, giving wounded veterans a place to call home is his way of saying thanks. Since 2005, his organization has built four houses. Five more are under construction, and he's expanding his idea into a national campaign called Operation Finally Home. FULL STORY

Do you know a hero? Nominations are open for 2010 CNN Heroes


Filed under: CNN Heroes
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