By Julia Colborn
Eight years ago, Operation: Coming Home (OCH) began as an idea among members of the Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County and the local veterans group Triangle Real Estate & Construction Veterans. They wanted to provide free custom homes for soldiers who injured in the line of duty.
With a goal of one house per year, OCH held its first groundbreaking ceremony in May 2008. On Oct. 27, the 11th key ceremony was conducted for Sgt. Kyle Snyder and his family, making it the third home built for a veteran and family this year. Lennar Homes built the Snyders’ new house.
Snyder, whose father was a police officer in Rolesville “back when it was a one-light, one-cop kind of town,” as he put it, began his 14-year military service with the Navy, and he is the first Navy veteran for whom OCH has built a house. He served both the Virginia and N.C. National Guards, and in 2012 he was deployed to Afghanistan with the 514th Company, where he planned and ran missions. That October, his squad was attacked by a suicide bomber, leaving three dead and many others injured. The injuries he acquired were both physical and mental, and he has spent much of the past three years in and out of hospitals.
The interview process that OCH conducts is rigorous to ensure resources will be used in the most helpful way. Snyder is well-respected and even has a Purple Heart, but it is his constant consideration of others that earned him and his family the home. He established the Archangel Alliance, a program that helps veterans find work and transition smoothly back into civilian life. This concern for others who may be less fortunate than himself was evident right up through the key ceremony.
Tim Minton, director of government affairs for the N.C. Home Builders Association, along with Andy Ladner, U.S. Veteran Corps executive director and OCH president, hosted the ceremony. Words of gratitude were expressed not only to Snyder, but to all the men and women who have and continue to defend our country and to the many businesses required to make this type of gesture possible.
Glenn White, the president of Home Builders Association of Raleigh-Wake County said, “This new home represents how a community can come together to honor our heroes.”
Minton said most homes can need 60 to 80 companies to build and that OCH sets aside a $20,000 budget for each home. So far, they have not needed to use all $20,000 on any one of the houses, and they were able to present more than 40 businesses with plaques and coins of appreciation for their volunteer efforts.
Snyder was bestowed with additional gifts ranging from honorary police officer status by Mayor Vivian Jones to tickets and a custom camo jersey by James Wisniewski of the Carolina Hurricanes National Hockey League team. At the end of the ceremony, the official key was presented by Lennar Raleigh Division President Trish Hanchette.
Upon receiving the key, Snyder could be heard choking up as he thanked everyone who helped make the new home possible, and he talked about his desire to further serve his community.
“I’m not in uniform, but I’m in uniform,” he said.
Photos above by Julia Colborn:
Left: Carolina Hurricanes mascot, Stormy, and player James Wisniewski give Sgt. Snyder hockey tickets as well as a custom camo jersey.
Middle: Wake Forest Mayor Vivian Jones (right) and Wake Forest Police Lt. Brian Mote (left) presented Sergeant Snyder (center) with a memorandum to commemorate his honorary police officer status.
Right: To close out the event, Lennar Raleigh Division President Trish Hanchette and Lennar Regional President Fred Rothman handed Snyder the keys to his new home.