Veteran given local house
Bruce Burgess, who served in Iraq, helped other vets seek housing through the foundation. Now, his service is rewarded with a home of his own.
The homes4heroes program through the foundation serves to provide homes to veterans wounded while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Born in Charleston, Burgess is happy to be back in the mountains where he belongs.
“I could not be any further from the Iraqi desert, and I am fine with that,” said Burgess.
Morgan County was always a favored vacation spot for him and his family, and he is excited to have a residence here.
The three bedroom house is valued between $150,000 and $250,000 and will be fixed up with new carpet, new paint and all major appliances. The house was built in 2005, but sat vacant for a number of years.
Homes for the Military Warriors program are given through various financial donors, said Andrea Dellinger, Senior Director with the foundation.
“The houses are fully remodeled, we want to make it feel like they are moving into a brand new home,” said Dellinger.
This is the first house Military Warriors has awarded in West Virginia, though the program is growing nationwide.
“Bruce has been a phenomenal advocate for the program and worked with other warriors to apply as well,” Dellinger said. “We wanted to make him feel welcome.”
Burgess is a student at nearby Shepherd University, where he majors in mass communication.
When serving in Iraq, Burgess suffered brain injuries while neutralizing explosive devices. At the time of his discharge, he was a staff sergeant.
However, he warns that most modern soldiers deal with more subtle types of injuries.
“Combat is a full contact sport,” said Burgess. “Even if not hurt in direct confrontation with an enemy force, the hundred plus pounds of equipment can damage the muscles and bones.”
Many of the treatments Burgess undergoes are similar to reconstructive work on retired athletes.
He urges any wounded veterans to take the 15 minutes and apply for the program themselves, either for an existing home or to request one in their area. Veterans can go to militarywarriors.org to fill out an application.
Even if someone thinks they don’t qualify, it’s worth the effort, said Burgess. Many veterans like him are too busy to know veteran programs even exist.
Between deployment overseas, his surgical treatments, schooling, and looking for work, he was barely ever home to see his family. This new house will let him slow down, or so he hopes.
“My kids have been to more schools than I can count on one hand,” said Burgess. “It’s nice to have a permanent home. As a soldier, bases are supposed to be our homes, but never for long.”