DEER PARK, Texas- For most of the country, 9/11 is a solemn day of remembrance. One Texas veterans organization is choosing to honor our nation's heroes still with us.
On a bright and beautiful September afternoon, Veteran Army Specialist Will Thomas was given the keys to his brand new home and a second chance at life.
Hundreds of people lined Phyllis Street on Monday to welcome Will Thomas and his wife, Shanelle, to their new home.
"It's more than we could ask for," said Will. "We are very overwhelmed with this and everything everyone has done to be involved with this."
He enlisted in the army in 2009. In 2012, his MRAP was hit with an IED while deployed in Afghanistan. He was severely injured, and the road to recovery has been long and rough.
A spokesperson for the organization said:
"Four years, this outstanding soldier laid in a hospital bed at Walter Reed Army Hospital. When we first met him, we said 'what can we do for you buddy? What can we possibly do? He said make me better so I can go back to my unit. That's the kind of guy Will Thomas is."
Will did get better and on Monday became an official resident of Deer Park.
He and his wife toured the home with Re/Max agents and Texas Sentinels Foundation, the people who made it happen.
What put the biggest smile on his face? A urinal.
"Ever since I was like four years old, my uncle had one of these in his house, and I was so happy about it,” Will exclaimed.
While the outside of the house may not be brand new, the inside is completely redone. Everything from the light switches to larger entry ways were put in to make sure the house is handicap accessible for Will.
"We can both fit. You can shower with ease,” said Shanelle as they stepped into their walk-in shower. "I can. Yes! I can finally shower,” said Will excitedly.
Over the last 10 years, the Texas Sentinels Foundation has provided 21 homes for our nation's heroes, many on 9/11.
"After 9/11 we had a lot of friends and family and lot of our real estate agents' friends and family coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan with severe injuries; were 100% disabled, and it impacted us so much, we wanted to come up with a way to help them with a new start, and we decided since we were in the home business, let's do a debt-free, mortgage-free, home for them,” Texas Sentinels Foundation Founder, Richard Filip told us.
Standing in his new office, where Will plans to study for a Business Management degree, we asked him what he would tell his fellow veterans in need of help.
"Everyone's out there to help you. You may not think they're there to help you, but they normally are. Just get out there and ask,” said Will.