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Moving day. It’s a big day filled with anticipation and excitement. Being escorted by the Southeast Texas Patriot Guard Riders and greeted by the Cy-Fair Fire Department, the Houston Texans cheerleaders, their mascot, and defensive lineman Jacob Martin as you pull up to your new home was an added surprise for retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Stephen Netzley and his daughter Mrazy.

The day was July 9, and it was a little like “Christmas in July” when the veteran was presented with the keys to his new, mortgage-free home in Bridgeland. Organized by Operation FINALLY HOME who partnered with The Howard Hughes Corporation, Perry Homes, the Houston Texans and the Greater Houston Builders Association, moving day for the young family included a very warm reception from all who attended. A number of residents from the Bridgeland community also came out to support and welcome them to their new home.

Operation FINALLY HOME provides homes to injured or disabled veterans and widows of the fallen. Netzley was injured while serving in Afghanistan so a friend and fellow veteran encouraged Netzley to apply for the home. He filled out the application thinking that nothing would come from it. Operation FINALLY HOME surprised Netzley with the news that he was selected to receive a mortgage-free home back in November 2020.

Great lengths have been taken to ensure the young family feels at home in the community. Even the way he was notified was done with great fanfare. Disguised as an interview, Operation FINALLY HOME delivered the news and symbolic keys to his future home via a caravan of decorated cars escorted by the Southeast Texas Patriot Guard Riders much like a parade. Groundbreaking on the new home took place in February, and before the drywall was installed, the Bridgeland community left inspiring notes on the studs of the home in April.

It’s been a month since moving in, and Netzley and his daughter are still overwhelmed with gratitude for how Bridgeland went a long way to ensure he and his daughter were greeted warmly. He was impressed by seeing so many flags and neighbors as he drove up to his new home and is thankful for everyone’s support and generosity when they moved in.

The generosity extended to area businesses that got involved with the project as well. Gallery Furniture provided Netzley with a gift card so that the family could purchase furniture they needed, and HEB, through their Operation Appreciation, a companywide campaign that assists those who serve our country, stocked the pantry and cabinets with supplies to help ease the burden on the new homeowners.

As the Netzley family begins to settle into their new home, they’re getting acquainted with all the community has to offer. His daughter won’t be starting school for another year, giving them lots of time to explore miles of hike and bike trails and the many parks located throughout Bridgeland. Netzley has returned to school and is working towards a master’s degree in social work. His goal is to support veterans, in and outside Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In the meantime, he’s looking forward to getting together with neighbors and joining a variety of community groups, especially the community veterans group, The Bridgeland Community Supports Veterans, Inc.

He’s grateful for their new home and that his daughter will grow up in such a wonderful community with good schools and rich in nature. Christmas, their favorite holiday, is still a few months away, giving them plenty of time to decide the perfect place for their Christmas tree.