Wounded veterans program 'soldiers on' amid scrutiny


by Andrew Horansky / KHOU 11 News


Posted on April 14, 2014 at 5:41 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 14 at 6:21 PM

TOMBALL, Texas – Monday marked a new chapter for Jennifer Penn. The retired Navy veteran wounded in Afghanistan broke ground on a new, custom-adapted home in Tomball.

“I’ll be more independent,” she said, “Able to do more things for myself and everything like that.”

But there was still a cloud overhead.

Helping a Hero, the charity behind it, was challenged recently over another home for another veteran named Hunter LeVine.

His family said he obtained a home for just $50,000 and that Helping a Hero helped with the rest.

But when LeVine died, the charity exercised a provision to buy it back. His parents wanted to keep the home.

The charity’s leader called the move regrettable but legal.

“It is a clause within our contract because the homes are specially adapted,” said Col. Jeff Ragland (Ret.). “They’re for the heroes.”

On Monday, Ragland also addressed allegations from former board members who claim the chairman, Meredith Iler, does not open the books and is almost militant about sharing financial information.

“As quickly as I can get to the bottom of everything, we will absolutely release what’s legally required,” Ragland said. He also promised to share the findings of a new internal audit.

But full transparency may not come anytime soon.

Items such as bank and credit card statements and check ledgers remain off-limits to the media and even the Better Business Bureau, despite repeated requests to see them.