This time next year, Army Staff Sergeant Stephen Netzley and his daughter will be celebrating the holidays in a new, mortgage-free home. Closing on the home will take place in spring 2021, thanks to The Howard Hughes Corporation, Operation FINALLY HOME, Perry Homes and the Houston Texans, who have partnered to positively impact the life of this military veteran who selflessly gave of himself to defend our freedoms.
Under the guise of an interview, Vice President of Project Management of Operation FINALLY HOME Lee Kirgan arranged the meeting as a way of surprising Netzley that he had already been selected to receive a mortgage-free home in Bridgeland. The elaborate plan was flawlessly executed. A caravan of decorated cars escorted by the Southeast Texas Patriot Guard Riders helped deliver the news in a grand parade and presented Netzley and his daughter with a symbolic key to their future home.
The mission of Operation FINALLY HOME is to provide homes and home modifications to America’s military heroes and the widows of the fallen. It has over 250 projects completed or in planning, as listed on their website. With the cooperation of developers like The Howard Hughes Corporation who donated the homesite and homebuilders like Perry Homes who donated the home, Operation FINALLY HOME connects those wishing to demonstrate their commitment to those who have served our country.
“Being a former combat veteran, I am very honored to have our organization contribute to a life changing initiative for an American hero and his family,” said Heath Melton, Executive Vice President of Master Planned Communities, Residential for The Howard Hughes Corporation. “Partnering with Perry Homes and the Houston Texans in support of Operation FINALLY HOME makes it even more special as we bring the community together.”
At a time of year when many of us reflect on our blessings, Netzley and his daughter are grateful to be chosen to receive this home. In a video taken on the day he was notified, Netzley expresses how the donation of a mortgage-free home means the world to him.
Coming from meager beginnings and never owning his own bed, he has sacrificed for others since he was a young boy. He dropped out of high school in order to work, contributing to his family’s finances. Encouraged by his two older brothers, Netzley joined the military in 2005, the same year Operation FINALLY HOME was founded.
He suffered physical injuries to the discs in his spine, and like other returning veterans, Netzley also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He describes a mission in Afghanistan from 2007 as the most traumatic day of his life. While escorting Afghan soldiers, his unit was ambushed with some members suffering loss of life and others critically wounded. Remembering the events of that day, and preparing the bodies of lost soldiers for transport home, still haunts him.
Through it all, he continued to help others, even as the pain from his back radiated to his legs. He advocated for other single soldiers in the Wounded Warrior unit and helped boost morale of local veterans by hosting a variety of events.
After being medically discharged, Netzley enrolled in a local community college. He became actively involved with organizations and clubs, and his academic career was hugely successful. He completed a thesis as an undergraduate student and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Houston.
Netzley has received numerous accolades including an Army’s Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Combat Action Badge and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal for his dedicated service in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Humbled to be part of the effort to improve the quality of life for one veteran who selflessly gave for others, The Howard Hughes Corporation will have a groundbreaking ceremony for Netzley’s home in early 2021. The soon-to-be Bridgeland resident will be moving into their new home this spring, where he and his daughter will be making friends and memories to last a lifetime.
Photos provided by: Houston Texans