Veteran given keys to mortgage-free home

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U.S. Army Cpl. Tramel Peterson speaks as his sister Army Sergeant First Class Demitra Jarrett listens during a ribbon cutting ceremony for her new, custom, mortgage-free home through Operation Finally,

U.S. Army veteran Sergeant Demitra Jarrett was ceremoniously handed keys to a home in the Woodforest subdivision Friday morning, an event usually kept private between family members. But Jarrett’s new home ownership was more of a cause for celebration than your typical house closing.

Hers was provided mortgage-free.

Jarrett is the most recent veteran recipient of a fully funded home provided by Operation Finally Home, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to building homes for wounded, ill or injured veterans, and their families. She rolled into the subdivision Friday escorted by Patriot Guard Riders and was greeted by about 100 residents, builders, first responders, and others waving American flags and cheering as they welcomed her to the site of her custom-built, mortgage-free Texas home.

“I just wanted to thank God and thank all of you for being here,” Jarrett told the crowd fighting back tears. “I’d like to thank my family and friends for all the support they give me on a daily basis. I’m proud to say I’m finally home.”

In May, Jarrett was surprised with the news she was receiving the home. And on Friday, little did she know she was in for another surprise – one that hits a little closer to home.

Gary Tesch, president of home-builder Coventry Homes, was about to hand Jarrett the keys to her house, but they were nowhere to be found. He went inside the home to retrieve them and instead came out with Jarrett’s brother, whom she has not seen in five years.

Her brother, U.S. Army Corporal Tramel Peterson, has been deployed and was able to return home just in time to see his sister get her home. Jarrett had no idea about the reunion before she gazed upon her brother, who was donning a sharp-looking uniform and walked with purpose toward his sister.

The Army toughness Peterson sported quickly broke down as the two burst into tears for their first hug in years.

“I couldn’t be more proud to be partnered up with a group like this and giving back by doing so much for the people who do so much for us with the sacrifices they make,” Tesch said.

Jarrett is a single mother who served in the Army from 2002 to 2013, according to her Operation Finally Home caseworker Deb Kane. She suffered a serious traumatic brain injury and back injury from a blast during her first of three combat deployments while in Iraq in 2003. Despite her injuries and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, she returned to Iraq in 2006 and Kuwait in 2007.

In 2012, she was accepted into officer’s candidate school, but due to her deteriorating health condition was unable to attend. She received numerous awards, including the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal and more.

Today, Jarrett battles lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the tissues and organs, which prompted her need to move to a warm climate. She chose to move to Texas where she was once stationed at Ft. Hood, has family, and can be close to the Houston area medical care she needs.

While she lives with her mother’s assistance, she is pursuing a Master’s degree in psychology and plans to earn a PhD in endocrinology and rheumatology with the goal to cure lupus and to help provide coping skills for fellow veterans coping with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, which she also combats.

Her home is the 132nd house Operation Finally Home has given to veterans mortgage-free, according to Lee Kirgan, vice president of construction for Operation Finally Home.

“Demitra paid a price that she’ll continue to pay for the rest of her life, a price that 99 percent of us haven’t paid,” Kirgan said. “Let’s welcome her to Texas and welcome her finally home.”

Source: Jay R. Jordan @yourconroenews.com

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