King Oaks, Bryan-College Station’s premier, master-planned residential community, has partnered with Operation FINALLY HOME and the Aggieland community to honor a U.S. veteran with one acre of land and a mortgage-free, custom home in the King Oaks neighborhood. On Friday, February 22, the group broke ground on the home, which will be custom-built to meet the needs of its recipient, Sergeant Monte Bernardo of the 82nd Airborne Division of the United States Army.
“Sgt. Bernardo has shown exquisite strength, courage and sacrifice in the name of our country,” said Dan Wallrath, founder of Operation FINALLY HOME. “His positive attitude and perseverance are an example for us all. We are blessed to be able to build this home for him.”
While serving his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, Bernardo was critically injured by an IED blast on July 4, 2012. The injuries he sustained resulted in the loss of three of his limbs, including both legs, which were amputated above the knees, and his left hand. Bernardo was awarded a Purple Heart and recognized for his service with several military commendations.
Sgt. Bernardo was surprised with the announcement of his new home during half-time at the Texas A&M Military Appreciation football game on November 17, 2012. He was unable to attend the groundbreaking due to treatments he is currently undergoing at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, but plans to visit the site in the coming weeks. Sgt. Bernardo said he regrets that he could not attend, but he has shared a video thanking everyone involved for their support.
The four-bedroom, single-story home will be built to meet the needs of Sgt. Bernardo and his family, with wide doorways to better accommodate the use of his wheelchair. There is also a threshold-free shower with handheld showerhead and spacious toilet area in the master bathroom. While Sgt. Bernardo has requested that the cabinetry and counter space remain at the standard height to be more convenient for his family, other possible accommodations include lowering light switches and raising power outlets.
“We are excited to break ground on the home for Sgt. Bernardo”, said Thad Rutherford, senior vice president of SouthStar Communities, which owns and develops the King Oaks community.
King Oaks is honored to be able to welcome Sgt. Bernardo home, and we look forward to having him as part of the community.
In addition to providing the acre of land on which the home will be built, King Oaks is coordinating several fundraising opportunities to support the project and raise money for Sgt. Bernardo and his family. A fishing derby will be held on Saturday, March 23, at 10 a.m. The event will feature professional angler Jimmy Houston, and all proceeds will go toward the cost of the home. There is also an online tiered-donation sweepstakes in which participants are entered to win an autographed Texas A&M football helmet signed by 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel.
Builders Mark Weber Custom Homes, Pitcock and Croix Custom Homes, Ellis Homes and Quinn Williams Construction will be contributing materials and services to the effort.
“I have seen this group of builders come together to serve their community many times before,” said Randall Pitcock of Pitcock and Croix Custom Homes. “As a group of builders, contractors, vendors and community volunteers, this is an opportunity to put our God-given talents to work and thank Sgt. Monte Bernardo and his family. We are coordinating a community effort for a true American hero who has served us all and returned home to continue living his life.”
Those interested in supporting the project can register at AggielandVeteran.com or on the Operation FINALLY HOME Facebook page to receive updates and make donations.