Veteran Receives Mortgage Free Home
OCALA- It’s three days before Thanksgiving and one veteran and his family have a lot to be thankful for. The family of five received the gift of a lifetime. They got a place they can call "home."
On Monday, wounded veteran Jamie Whitaker and his family received the keys to their new home located in Ocala.
"Best day of my life,” said Zeek Whitaker.
"Wow this kitchen is bigger than our old apartment," said SFC Jamie.
Jamie, of Lake City, is a retired Army Sergeant first class. He did three tours in Iraq and was wounded in 2005.
"We ran over a pretty massive IED," said Jamie.
In 2011, Jamie suffered three heart attacks and he just retired this year. Jamie, his wife Della and their three boys lived in small apartment in Columbus Georgia.
Jamie and Della’s oldest son Ty Barredd didn’t have a room in their old apartment. Instead he slept on a couch. But now they have plenty of room in their donated three bedroom- two bathroom home.
"I don't even think that it has sunk in that this is my house," said Jamie.
"We are truly blessed," said Della.
The Military Warriors Support Foundation, in partnership with Bank of America, donated the home. Jon Gardner with Bank of America said the family doesn’t have to worry about ever losing their gift, because there is no mortgage.
"To see the faces of their three young boys light up as they got to check out the home, it's just amazing and it doesn't get any better than this," said Gardner.
About $25,000 was spent on repairs including new painted walls, carpets and appliances. The Whitaker home even has a large swimming pool, a fenced backyard and Jamie’s favorite part of the home, a shed.
"That will be my fortress of solitude." said Jamie.
This Thursday Jamie, Della and their three boys will be eating Thanksgiving dinner in their own dining room. Something they haven't done in the past seven years.
“This is something to be thankful for on Thanksgiving," said Jamie.
This is the very first home in North Central Florida that's been donated by Bank of America. Within the next year more than 30 veterans are expected to receive a mortgage free home in our area.
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