These Teens Built A Home For A Wounded Vet, And The Result Of Their Hard Work Is Awe Inspiring — PHOTOS
When students in a Lancaster High School history class learned that Jerral Hancock, an army veteran who had been wounded while serving in Iraq, was struggling to raise his children in a crowded mobile home that wasn’t wheelchair accessible, they decided to take action in a major way: The teens built the wounded vet a house. The project took two years and a lot of work (including some help from Forrest Gump and CSI New York actor Gary Sinise), but these intrepid students are now ready to present SPC Hancock and his family with the keys to their new home. Not bad for a group of people who have only recently been eligible to drive, right?
According to ABC News, SPC Hancock was injured in Iraq on his 21st birthday, when the tank he was driving was attacked. His injuries were extensive and included the loss of his left arm, serious burns, and partial paralysis. Eight years later, he is living in Antelope Valley, CA, and raising his two children on his own. Lancaster students were dismayed to discover that he was living in a mobile home that wasn’t suited to his mobility needs; parts of the home were so narrow that he couldn’t access his children’s bedrooms in his wheelchair.
Vowing to build a home more suited to Hancock’s needs, the students raised money through selling t-shirts and magnets, and getting the community involved. Following the students’ example, local residents and businesses donated money, building materials, and services. Actor Gary Sinise, who has been involved in supporting veterans for many years, donated $60,000 to the project and performed a benefit concert to raise money with his band, Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band.
SPC Hancock’s new home includes two structures: A three-bedroom “smart home” for Hancock and his children, built to accommodate Hancock’s unique health and mobility requirements, and a two-bedroom house for his full-time caretakers. The keys will be presented to him today—which happens to be his 29th birthday—and, as he tells ABC News, he plans to move his family in as soon as possible.
Now that Hancock’s house is finished, the students seem poised to continue their good work. During the course of the project, they developed Operation All The Way Home (OATH), a nonprofit dedicated to helping veterans find housing. Let’s hope that Hancock’s home is only the first of many projects to which OATH will contribute in years to come.
To learn more about OATH and these amazing teens, check out the OATH website.
Images: Operation All The Way Home/Facebook