Sgt. LaPatrick Black was all smiles Jan. 29 as he and his 4-year-old daughter, Jazzlyn, greeted guests who attended the groundbreaking for his new, mortgage-free home.
The house, in South Charlotte’s Chapel Cove neighborhood, is being built by the PulteGroup, a national homebuilding company.
Black said he has come a long way since he suffered a traumatic brain injury, with nerve damage and loss of hearing, while serving in the U.S. Army during the Iraqi Freedom Campaign.
When Jon Cherry, division president of PulteGroup, met Black, Cherry said it wasn’t long before he knew they would be building Black a house. He had been nominated for the company’s national Built to Honor program, which provides wounded veterans with a mortgage-free home. PulteGroup was looking for its first “Hero” in Charlotte.
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“We met Sgt. Black in the fall, talked about his experiences in the military and what had happened to him. We just couldn’t be more proud of building this particular home for this individual,” Cherry said.
“He embodies the spirit of what we are trying to accomplish, which is to give back to those who have given so much to us.”
Black has won numerous commendations as well as the Purple Heart. He said when he returned home in 2007 he had to relearn many things. Black said his parents and daughter have helped him on his long road to recovery.
“My family has been my backbone of my support system through everything,” he said. “They’ve been there through every phase of getting myself back to where I am now. I can do a lot more functions than I could when I was originally hurt.
“The biggest hurdle was understanding that things take time. Day by day it’s better, week by week it’s better. I am blessed because I am so far out from where I was in the beginning.”
Paul Black, LaPatrick’s father and a retired Marine, said “I taught him how to drive twice. I taught him how to drive when he was 15 and then again after his injury.”
Paul also said they are “truly grateful” for the efforts of everyone at the groundbreaking.
LaPatrick keeps working and says he is close to being all the way back, so close that the Department of Homeland Security has offered him a job and he will start training soon.
The Military Warriors Support Foundation partners with the PulteGroup to offer veterans three years of monthly financial counseling, to mange any other debts and make home ownership a smoother transition.
Genise Black, LaPatrick’s mom, said, “The Military Warrior Support Foundation and Pulte homes have done an excellent job in supporting our veterans, wounded warriors and those who have been able to make it back. We are very honored today and should keep in mind those veterans who did not make it back.”
Cherry said the company’s goal when it started the program in 2013 was to serve 20 veterans, across the country, per year. He said the company has beaten that goal the past two years.
“Participants are nominated by their squad leader, captain or somebody in a leadership position that recognizes them for their great performance and the commitment that they have made to our country,” Cherry said.
Those names are reviewed by a board of past military leaders, who provide the names to the PulteGroup. Those who are selected receive a fully furnished and completely decorated, mortgage-free home, in their hometown.
Black said he can’t wait to move into his new, 3,200-square-foot-home, which will be completed later this year.
“It is a blessing to have an organization take care of veterans like myself and others. It’s truly a blessing to be part of something like this,” he said.
He offers this advice to anyone dealing with a severe injury similar to his.
“I know the process is hard on the road to recovery. Just stay the course, things get better with time. Just stay diligent and things will be alright.”
Marty Price is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org
PulteGroup’s Built to Honor program:www.pultegroupinc.com/built-to-honor/Overv/default.aspx
Military Warriors Support Foundation: https://militarywarriors.org