New home is retired soldier’s Veterans Day gift

Newly-constructed homes are a common sight in booming Harrisburg.

But when the Colon family moves into its new Harrisburg house in November, it will be absent a traditional feature:

A mortgage.

Retired U.S. Army Sgt. Stuart Colon and his family were chosen to receive a mortgage-free, 1,950-square-foot home through Operation Homefront, a San Antonio, Texas, organization that places veterans in bank-owned homes, and Meritage Homes Corp., a homebuilder in several Charlotte-area developments.

Colon is one of two former military members chosen nationally by the organizations to get homes around Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

Colon and his family have lived in Ocala, Fla., since 2009, when he retired from the Army on a medical discharge. Colon said he chose Harrisburg for a new home because he has extended family in the area and also enjoys the climate.

Colon, 45, said he hopes that not having to pay rent or a monthly mortgage will allow the family to pay off its debt and save money for 19-year-old Chelsey’s college education.

“It means everything to us,” Colon said. “We can pass this home on to our children and not go through a financial burden.”

Raised in Queens and Brooklyn, N.Y., Colon joined the military at 17. He left the service and worked odd jobs until the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks prompted him to re-enlist in the Army. His subsequent eight-year stint included combat in Iraq. He retired in 2009 after being injured.

The Colons’ house is part of the third set of newly built homes provided by Meritage Homes through Operation Homefront’s Homes on the Homefront program.

“For once, we did something right for our (veterans’) families,” Colon said of the home donation.

Steven Hilton, chairman and CEO of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Meritage Homes, agreed.

“We are extremely grateful to our military veterans for their service and sacrifices, which we are especially mindful of (around Veterans Day),” Hilton said. “We value the opportunities we’ve had to express our gratitude in such a direct and meaningful way by enriching the lives of many military families over the last three years.”

John Deem is a freelance writer: