Home for a Hero

Sgt. Monte Bernardo tours the construction of his new home in Iola, Texas. Photo Stars and Stripes Dave Einsel.

Texas wounded veteran gets first glimpse of his mortgage-free home

Former sergeant Monte Bernardo mastered his prosthetic legs to walk down a slight downslope while touring the bare bones of his new home.

In the wooded community of King Oaks in Iola, future neighbors, fellow veterans and community supporters gathered to shake the Army veteran's hand and write notes of love and support on the wooden beams holding up the 2,300-square-foot, four-bedroom, two-bathroom home.

Saturday was the first time Bernardo, who lost both legs and his left arm when he stepped on an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan last Fourth of July, saw the house he was promised in a surprise announcement at Kyle Field last November.

"Them giving me this home took a lot of stress off because you just don't know how you're going to live and what you're going to do," Bernardo, 31, said explaining the daunting feeling of trying to figure out his life post-injury.

Thanks to Operation FINALLY HOME, a nonprofit organization providing mortgage-free homes to wounded and disabled veterans since 2005, Bernardo, his fiance and 12-year-old daughter will have a home in Grimes County, less than half an hour from Texas A&M University, where Bernardo plans to study aerospace engineering.

Originally published by Stars and Stripes. All rights reserved.

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