Today is a big day for Waldemar Alameda. The 40-year-old injured Iraq Army veteran opened the door to his brand-new LEED-certified home in Tampa, Fla.
The home is equipped with solar panels and a natural gas tankless water heater that will significantly lower Alameda’s energy bills. Its design – featuring ramps, wide doors and an elevator – will also make for easier mobility for Alameda, who became permanently disabled by an IED explosion while serving as a staff sergeant in Tikrit, Iraq in 2007.
Spokesperson Janell Vantrease, who was on-site in Tampa today, described Alameda’s emotion as he stepped across the threshold of his new home.
“Mr. Alameda […] was teary eyed as he got a tour of his new home,” she said. “He kept talking about how lucky he was to get a second chance to start over and how important it was for him to protect our freedom during his 20-year service to the Army.”
Local and national volunteers from Rebuilding Together, Sears Heroes at Home and NextGen Home Experience assembled the modular home free of cost for Alameda. Vantrease also noted that Sears surprised Alameda by offering him a job once he is able to work.
Of the nearly 200,000 service members currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 33,000 have been wounded, according to Rebuilding Together. With the heavy load of mounting medical bills, many of these vets return to the U.S. with financial hardships, making home repairs a low priority.
Rebuilding Together partnered with Sears Heroes at Home to raise more than $12 million to provide housing for low-income veterans. Later this year, the two organizations will rebuild their 1,000th home for veterans.