Julian Omidi discusses the work of Dan Wallrath, founder of Operation Finally Home, an organization that builds and remodels homes for United States Service men and women.
United States armed forces men and women face unimaginable challenges every day of their services. The stress and anxiety of performing their duties along with the terror of realizing that every new day might bring some circumstance that might forever change – or even end – their lives, is more than many of us could bear. However, if a soldier finds himself seriously injured, he could face a series of difficulties for which he might not be prepared. This is where Dan Wallrath comes in.
For three decades, Mr. Wallrath build and remodeled the homes of wealthy clients. When Mr. Wallrath met the father of a 20-year-old injured marine in 2005, he saw first hand the struggles of American veterans with coping with day-to-day realities. The veteran had once been a large, hale, and hearty marine, but his injuries had depleted him to the point where he weighed approximately half of what he did when he enlisted.
The veteran’s father wanted to construct a wheelchair ramp and other amenities so that his son could access the family home more easily, but he didn’t have the money to do so. Mr. Wallrath volunteered his services, and convinced several other contractors to contribute their resources to the effort. After the project was finished, Mr. Wallrath decided that there were service men and women all over the country that could be facing the same thing, and Operation Finally Home was born.
To date, Operation Finally Home has built 44 homes for injured veterans. The homes are mortgage-free, and the organization even pays the taxes and insurance fees for one year, while the veteran goes back to school, or establish new careers. The time allows the veterans to become financially stable enough to take the reigns, and begin whole new lives.
In addition to the 44 homes already built, Operation Finally Home has 42 homes currently under construction. The organization works with carpenters, plumbers, electricians and builders’ associations in 17 states. The economic downturn has made the home building and remodeling services even more vital.
Mr. Wallrath has retired from his home building profession in order to devote all of his time and effort to his crusade. According to Mr. Wallrath, “It really broke my heart to think (about) these young men and women. It was like someone hit me upside the head with a 2×4. … I just felt like this is what God wants me to do.”
Mr. Wallrath’s contribution to these men and women is more than just material – it gives them the chance to give their lives a much-needed boost. We at Civic Duty salute Mr. Wallrath and his organization, and we hope that his efforts continue to bring hope and stability to these men and women who couldn’t be more deserving.
 Toner, Kathleen: Building Free Homes for Wounded Vets CNN.com 12/18/2013 http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/06/us/cnnheroes-wallrath-operation-finally-home/index.html