STOW: A wounded Cincinnati-area veteran received a free home Wednesday in an act of kindness that a Stow woman and her company helped initiate.
“It is beyond words,” said Ohio Army National Guard veteran Dan Hof, 34, of Norwood, of the gift.
Hof was wounded in Iraq in 2005 from an improvised explosive device and received the Purple Heart. He was selected to receive the free home for his fiancee and three children in a program from FAIRWAY Independent Mortgage Corp. The effort is a collaboration with the nonprofit groups the Boot Campaign and the Military Warriors Support Foundation.
Hof was given the home Wednesday at a ceremony in Stow at the Acker-Moore Memorial Post on Fishcreek Road and expects to move in on June 4. The ceremony was held during a training meeting of local and national Realtors.
Lori Fetter, 49, of Stow, the sales manager for the Stow office of FAIRWAY, said she attended a meeting in Texas about the home giveaway program more than a year ago at which FAIRWAY made the Boot Campaign the company’s national charity.
“We started giving away houses in other states and I thought, we should try to give away a home in Ohio,” said Fetter.
She estimated the value of the home, which was a foreclosed property that has been renovated in Dayton, to be about $175,000.
The home given away Wednesday was the seventh nationwide that FAIRWAY has been involved with in the past year, Fetter said.
Hof, who served nine years in the National Guard, is a former auxiliary policeman for the city of Norwood and a former police officer for Xavier University.
He is now a student at Indiana Wesleyan University and works in the family contracting business.
“It is overwhelming,” he said of the generosity of the organizations that have provided him with a mortgage-free home.
“It is going to be life changing,” to own a home free and clear, he said.
“We will be able without the burden of having a mortgage payment, to provide for our kids a much more comfortable life style and now we can plan for the future.”
He said he was injured when his unit came under attack.
“Our job was to do route clearance looking for improvised explosive devices,” he said.
A second roadside bomb went off causing him to have a concussion, temporary hearing loss, minor burns and shrapnel wounds.
The generosity of FAIRWAY, the Boot Campaign and the Military Warriors Support Foundation, he said, is an example of how America has come to the aid of its military and veterans since 9/11.
“There is an enormous amount of generosity all over the country,” he said. “I am so glad that the country has learned its lessons from how the Vietnam veterans were treated ... It has completely swung the other way.”
Former Army Capt. Sean Parnell, author of the book Outlaw Platoon: Heroes, Renegades, Infidels, and the Brotherhood of War in Afghanistan, spoke to the group at the Wednesday meeting and encouraged civilians to help veterans.
“The only way a warrior can fully return to his homeland is if those he left behind know his story,” said Parnell, an Afghanistan veteran and a former Army Ranger who was wounded in Afghanistan and received the Purple Heart. “We all need that understanding. And it needs to be as close to universal as possible.”
Parnell said all civilians have the opportunity to help returning veterans.
“You may be the first civilian contact a veteran has when he returns from war,” Parnell said. “Don’t take your role lightly. You guys are on the front lines.”
Those in real estate business, like those gathered at the meeting in Stow, Parnell said, also play an important role.
“You are going to be helping a warrior establish an anchor here at home,” he said.
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or firstname.lastname@example.org.