The mortgage-free home giveaway is a perennial favorite at Turkeys for Troops. At every event, a combat-wounded veteran is awarded a mortgage-free home.
This year, the event was even more spectacular than usual. Two homes were given away instead of one.
The first home went to Jessica Herring of San Antonio, TX. Herring served as a 71L from 2001 to 2006. She joined the U.S. Army between her junior and senior year of high school in 2000. After suffering several minor injuries throughout her service, she encountered a large improvised explosive device (IED) on October 21, 2003, striking the windshield of the vehicle she was driving. This blast, along with several other IED encounters coupled with the physical stress of carrying military equipment, caused injuries to Herring’s spine, hearing, and knee. She has also been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and cognitive and mood disorders.
Herring and her family love traveling, trying new food, and being outside. Herring’s dream for the future includes focusing on her health, finishing her master’s degree in international relations, and ultimately working with non-profits, particularly regarding refugee services and advocacy. She hopes to research refugee camp revitalization and gender-based violence within camps and study ways to end it. The family plans to use the financial security of the mortgage-free home to pursue their dreams and pay for their son’s college education.
The home was provided by the Military Warriors Support Foundation’s “Home4WoundedHeroes” program in conjunction with Toyota of Boerne’s sponsorship.
The second home was awarded to Carlos Henaogallego. Henaogallego joined the U.S. Army in 2003 and received his first assignment in Fort Stewart, GA. He served during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan, and Kuwait-Operation Spartan Shield. His 14-year military career has been recognized with awards such as the Meritorious Service Medal, Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal.
During Henaogallego’s 2005 deployment in Iraq, he was approaching a base in Taji with his unit when he spotted a pile of garbage on the roadside. Right before the soldiers passed, an IED went off that had been hidden under the trash. The vehicle was damaged, and Henaogallego lost consciousness for several minutes. Two of Henaogallego’s fellow soldiers died during the ambush.
During his 2016 deployment, Henaogallego was diagnosed with PTSD and TBI. He returned to civilian life after 14 years in the service and found the adjustment difficult. Now, with a mortgage-free home provided by Walmart and Keurig Dr. Pepper, Henaogallego and his family hope to continue the healing process and be closer to their family and support network.