Feel-Good Friday: 'Operation: Coming Home' Gives the Keys to a New Home to an Army Sergeant's Widow
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If you think home ownership is out of reach for the average American, imagine what it is like for a United States veteran, especially a disabled veteran. There are a number of organizations that assist veterans and their families in achieving the American Dream, and each one is special in its outreach. These organizations, and the fighting men and women whom they honor, are the subject of this week’s Feel-Good Friday.

In 2007, the Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County, North Carolina wanted to honor severely wounded veterans and fallen service members within their community by providing mortgage-free homes. They formed a partnership with home builders and other sponsors, and Operation: Coming Home (OCH) was born. Now run by veterans, OCH’s first mission was for Sergeant Joey Bozik, a wounded military policeman who lost both his legs in Iraq. OCH built a home customized to his special needs.

Seventeen years later, OCH is now on home number 27, in honor of fallen Army Staff Sergeant Juantrea Bradley. Sgt. Bradley was killed in Iraq in 2008, when his truck caught fire from an explosion from a nearby mortar. Sgt. Bradley received the Purple Heart, the highest of honors, but sadly, his wife Ava Lanette Bradley was left a widow, and their three sons and one daughter—Anthony, Trevon, Juantrea, Jr., and Asia—lost their father.

The family of a fallen US Army staff sergeant received a home free of cost today in Fuquay-Varina.

A ceremony took place in the morning at the home on Sneed Lane to honor the life of Juantrea Bradley, who died while serving in Iraq in 2008.

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One of the last things Bradley told his wife before his death was, “thank you for having our children.”

OCH does it up big for their Key Ceremony, with live music, commendations, and a family and friends walking through of the home. During the tour, Mrs. Bradley said, “We thank God, we thank everybody that had anything to do with it. We appreciate everybody,” 

She also expressed how much it meant that her late husband, and the family’s sacrifice, were honored by the community:

It shows that they appreciate what their dad, what my late husband did. It shows that we’re not alone. They see it, and they love us too.

Ava Bradley and her children now have a mortgage-free home in Juantrea Bradley’s honor. What a lovely gift to not only honor his memory, but the sacrifice he and his family made in service to our country. Sadly, veteran homelessness is on the rise, so more community endeavors like OCH are necessary and need our support. 

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