Heartwarming reaction from veteran, family after receiving new home from nonprofit

Operation Finally Home donates mortgage-free homes to wounded veterans, first responders

SAN ANTONIO - – A military hero and his young family saw their new home for the very first time Wednesday. It was all a big surprise from Operation Finally Home, a nonprofit that builds houses for injured and ill veterans and first responders.

Retired Marine Jonathan Stephenson was injured in Afghanistan by an IED in 2012.

“I was thrown from my vehicle over 200 meters. After about a year of trying to save my left leg -- of the left leg below the knee amputation -- my left femur was broken in half. Left hip was cracked. Right heel was shattered. Right ankle was broken. Several vertebrae in my back were severely damaged, and then right eardrum ruptured,” Stephenson said.

The home he, his wife Alexandria and their three kids had before made it difficult for him to get around. That’s when they reached out to Operation Finally Home.

“Three hundred fifty projects in 34 states over the last 17 years, and each and every year we get bigger and providing more homes, remodels, tiny homes, and now we’re moving into multifamily projects,” explained Dan Waldraff, founder and president of Operation Finally Home.

Waldraff said he still feels pride every time they reveal a home to a family.

After being handed the keys to their new home in a big ceremony with a military flyover, it was tears of joy from mom and dad and squeals of excitement from the kids.

“A mortgage-free home for a veteran -- it’s always special to do for a family, especially young family. That joy that you can see on the kids’ faces, their own rooms,” said Shawn Seaberg, president of Pulte Group’s San Antonio Division.

The Pulte Group builds the homes, and Bank of America helps sponsor.

“I don’t think thank you is enough,” Alexandria said.

The modified entryways, doorways, and showers in the new home are helpful for Jonathan and the family’s three-legged dog, Cyprus.

“He had struggles with all of the elevations and stairs that we’ve always had within our old home, and (Cyprus) did too. And now she can finally relax,” Alexandria said.

The whole family is finally getting to live with the comfort they deserve.


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About the Authors

Courtney Friedman anchors KSAT’s weekend evening shows and reports during the week. Her ongoing Loving in Fear series confronts Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She joined KSAT in 2014 and is proud to call the SA and South Texas community home. She came to San Antonio from KYTX CBS 19 in Tyler, where she also anchored & reported.

Before starting at KSAT in August 2011, Ken was a news photographer at KENS. Before that he was a news photographer at KVDA TV in San Antonio. Ken graduated from San Antonio College with an associate's degree in Radio, TV and Film. Ken has won a Sun Coast Emmy and four Lone Star Emmys. Ken has been in the TV industry since 1994.

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