Story and Photos by JENNA BAILEY
On Saturday, December 16, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. Building Homes for Heroes gifted their 30th and final home of 2017 to Air Force Capt. Nathan Nelson in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla. While serving his third tour in Afghanistan – three months before his wife Jennifer was due to give birth to their daughter, Eva, who is now 3 years old – Capt. Nelson and his special operations team were under attack by heavy fire when he was exposed to a rocket blast that severely injured the lower half of his body. Nelson was immediately transported to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and after dozens of surgeries and ongoing rehabilitation; he has no movementbelow his waist and limited use of his hands. Building Homes for Heroes has built a new homefor the Nelsons that will cater to the specific needs of Capt. Nelson. Before giving the family the keys to their new mortgage-free home, several speakers had some words to share in honor of Nelson and the work that Building Homes for Heroes does for wounded veterans. Speakers at the event included: Andy Pujol, founder and CEO of Building Homes for Heroes; James Rogers, Building Homes for Heroes Director of Construction and Operations S-SE; Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz; and Florida State Representative Mel Ponder.
Following the speakers who commended Pujol’s work for Building Homes for Heroes, the project’s supporters, the Nelson family and all veterans and military families – Capt. Nelson himself took a moment to speak: “People have said such wonderful things about my service but I don’t really feel too much like a hero. Even though the hallways are wide and there are adaptations for me, I really feel that Andy and his team built this home for my hero – Jennifer Nelson.” Afterwards the Nelson family was given the keys and a tour of their new home which includes three bedrooms, large closets that Nathan can enter, two bathrooms, a physical therapy room and a spacious main living area. Every 10 days Building Homes for Heroes gifts a home to a wounded veteran.