By State Representative Tan Parker
Every November, it seems my wife, Beth, and I are amazed by how rapidly the year is approaching its end. While at times we almost feel a sense of panic, ultimately there is a much greater sense of appreciation felt as November brings forth the opportunity to fully reflect on life’s many blessings. Of course at the forefront of gratitude is the freedom we as Americans enjoy across our great nation. I am especially thankful for our brave soldiers who have served and are currently serving so we may gather as a free society.
Of course with their sacrifice for us, must come hope for them. That is why organizations that serve veterans and their families play a critical role throughout our communities and why I believe we should embrace a greater awareness on how we can help those who serve. Once such organization that has recently impacted our area is Building Homes for Heroes, a non-profit whose core mission is to serve our veterans that sacrifice to protect our country.
Building Homes for Heroes was established in 2006 by Andrew Pujol who was moved to start this incredible organization after personally assisting in the recovery efforts following the horrific attack on September 11, 2001. His passion to provide homes for those who have given so much, yet due to their sacrifice they are now struggling to help themselves, has grown Building Homes for Heroes into a vibrant organization that is strongly committed to assisting the individuals that have served in our military branches.
In 2016, Building Homes for Heroes gifted 29 veterans with new homes and has set a goal to complete 33 homes before the end of this year. I was blessed with the opportunity to recently attend the unveiling of Sergeant Kody Wilson’s new home on September 9th here locally. It was truly amazing to see the outpouring of love from Sergeant Wilson’s community, in conjunction with Building Homes for Heroes and their sponsors, that made this gift a reality.
Building Homes for Heroes also seeks to meet the emotional needs of wounded veterans by encouraging them to attend events for other injured veterans. Their hope is that these opportunities will allow for injured men and women to connect and build friendships while fostering a network devoted to lifting each other up.
In addition, the organization also understands that while gifting a home may cover a current need, such a gift comes with substantial costs down the road. Each home recipient is provided counseling from a financial planning representative who walks new homeowners through home expenses. This certainly demonstrates their commitment to providing successful futures for veterans, rather than just defining moments. And I certainly appreciate that the organization’s board does not receive compensation for the incredible work being done.
Outside of community efforts such as Building Homes for Heroes, the Texas Legislature has continually passed numerous laws designated to assist our wounded warriors and veterans. From waivers for drivers licenses and registration fees, property tax exemptions, creation of county veteran service centers to mental health assistance and educational benefits, lawmakers across the state support giving back to those who have sacrificed greatly so we flourish in freedom. The Office of the Governor has a website with a portion that highlights some of these legislative support measures: https://gov.texas.gov/organization/disabilities/veterans
November is certainly a wonderful time of year to reflect upon the many blessings we enjoy as Texans and Americans in celebrating both Veterans Day and Thanksgiving. It is also a time to give back in many ways through being a little more thankful, to taking the extra time to show appreciation to others and giving back through volunteerism or other means. Locally, we also have many opportunities to come together as a community in gratitude especially in honoring veterans. The City of Highland Village has a luncheon on Friday, November 10th where you can sponsor a veteran and hear many testimonies of their service. Flower Mound held a Veterans Day ceremony and family picnic on Sunday, November 5th at the Flower Mound High School stadium. You can also expect the American flag to be on display throughout the Town during the annual all-day flag relay on Friday, November 10th.
However you choose to spend the season of Thanksgiving, I do hope it is a safe and special one.
As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Texas House of Representatives, and I always welcome your feedback. If you would like to share a thought with me, please feel free to contact me at my Capitol office at 512.463.0688 or by email at [email protected].