Injured Tucson veteran, family receive home free and clear

2014-05-29T13:26:00Z 2014-05-29T17:59:14Z Injured Tucson veteran, family receive home free and clearArizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 29, 2014 1:26 pm  • 

When an injured Army National Guard veteran received the keys Thursday to a mortgage-free home in a west-side Tucson neighborhood, it was the beginning of a new life for his family.

The home was donated to Sgt. Paul Kelly, his wife, Gwen, and their 20-month-old daughter, Kaitlyn, by U.S. Bank in partnership with Freedom Alliance and its Heroes to Homeowners program, and Five Brothers, a real estate management company that helped renovate the home.

The value of the three-bedroom, two-bathroom home wasn’t made public, but it is in a neighborhood with “comps” in the $150,000 range, said Brian Butler, a spokesman for Freedom Alliance, a charitable organization that helps military families. The home is in the vicinity of North Silverbell and West Grant roads.

The home, which was in the bank’s inventory, likely because of a foreclosure, was spruced up with a new kitchen, updated bathrooms and other amenities before the Kellys moved in, and its backyard was redone to be “dog friendly” for Paul Kelly’s beloved working dog, Butler said.

Kelly, 43, was severely injured in the accidental collapse of a building while deployed to Kuwait as a logistical task officer several years ago. He had also served in Iraq. He has since been medically retired and is unable to work, Butler said.

“I am still in awe by the fact my family and I were chosen for this amazing opportunity,” Kelly said in a news release. “Once we get settled in our new home, we want to reach out to injured service members to help them navigate through the available resources and ease into civilian life — like Freedom Alliance has done for me. The organization helped me realize my life is different than before, but not over.”

Kelly is an outdoor enthusiast and has taken part in several rehabilitation activities offered by Freedom Alliance, including a four–day 65-mile fishing trip down the Rogue River in northern Oregon.

Those scheduled to attend a ceremony Thursday at the home included Buck Brown, in-store district manager for U.S. Bank in Tucson; Brian Schwallie, president of U.S. Bank in Arizona; Art Pérez, community affairs manager, U.S. Bank; Michael Sackmaster, vice president of REO, Residential Mortgage Default Management; Thomas Kilgannon, president of Freedom Alliance; and Joe Badalamenti, chief executive officer of Five Brothers.

“U.S. Bank employs approximately 2,000 current and former members of the U.S. military and has been recognized nationally as a top employer for veterans,” receiving the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award in 2013, Brown said in a news release. “U.S. Bank is committed to donating homes to wounded veterans when and where we can, and we plan to continue our program going forward.”

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