Sgt. Joel Tavera of Havelock, N.C., was deployed to Iraq in the fall of 2007. He was just 19 years old. In March of 2008, the Humvee Joel was riding in was hit by five rockets. The blasts killed three men. Joel was thought to be dead as well.
Tragically, Sgt. Tavera lost sight in both of his eyes, his right leg, four fingers on his left hand and suffered very serious head trauma and critical burns to 60 percent of his body.
It’s a miracle he survived. Officials told his parents, Jose and Maritza, he is the second most severely injured soldier to survive since the war in Iraq began. Joel received The Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
Now, thanks to the Building Homes for Heroes program, the appreciation of the Tampa Bay community and William Ryan Homes, Joel and his family have a home equipped to meet his ongoing challenges.
William Ryan Homes builds in Tampa, Phoenix, Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison, Wisc. Building homes for veterans — and veterans with special needs — is a source of pride for everyone at William Ryan Homes.
Bonded Builders is proud to donate a new home warranty to Sgt. Tavera.
Nearly a thousand people welcomed Sgt. Tavera to his new home on Nov. 19 — the weekend before Thanksgiving.
The housewarming included Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Adm. William McRaven, Maj. Gen. Robert Abrams, Maj. Gen. David Scott (Ret.), Brig. Gen. Darryl Williams, Brig. Gen. Chip Diehl and Gary Littrell (Congressional Medal of Honor recipient).
A procession along the flag-lined streets of New Tampa started at the James A. Haley Medical Center and proceeded through Lutz and into the Grand Hampton development.
After an invocation and blessing for the new home by Army Chaplain Eugene Mack, Building Homes for Heroes president Andy Pujol addressed the audience, thanking all of the distinguished guests, volunteers, builders, sponsors and members of the community for making a significant difference in Joel’s life.
Sgt. Tavera addressed the audience and honored the sacrifice of all veterans and their families, and thanked everyone who helped build his new home. He invited all his new neighbors to visit often.
Before the family crossed the threshold of their new home for the first time, FBI Special Agent Steven E. Ibison made a touching speech and presented Joel with a plaque that recognized his courage and honor.
To view the photo slideshow from the homecoming please click here
The $450,000 home, with special modifications, was made possible through the nonprofit BuildingHomesforHeroes.org, along with contributions from the builder, William Ryan Homes, local firefighters, contractors and others.Share