Life After Serving
For some veterans, life after separation is often spent searching. Searching for the next objective after the mission ends. Searching for meaning once the battle is over. Some spend the rest of their lives searching for home. The problem is the question of “What is home?” Is home the building where you keep your toothbrush? Is it a place where you can freely take a nap? Medal of Honor recipient and former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Clint Romesha has had plenty of time to contemplate what makes a house a home, but he is about to have more time to think about it as he moves into his new home, courtesy of Military Warriors Support Foundation and Wells Fargo.
Many people know Clint’s story. While stationed at Combat Outpost (COP) Keating, he and his comrades were ambushed and fought through a battle that later became known as The Battle of Kamdesh. A force of 300 Taliban fighters assaulted the COP for hours, burning part of it down, and ultimately wounding 27 soldiers, and killing 8 Americans. For his actions during the battle, Clint received the Medal of Honor, the highest award for service members actions of heroism. However, like many others who serve, he came home from war, hung up his uniform, and spent years looking for his place in life.
“I left home when I was eighteen, and this is really the first time I’ve had a home again,” said Clint. “I’ve had places to stay, I’ve lived in different parts of the country, different places in the world. But having a house and having a home are two different things. What Wells Fargo has done, what Military Warriors Support Foundation has done, and what this community has done is given me the opportunity to have a home.”
Career Paths Bring Clint to North Dakota
After serving, he moved to North Dakota to work in the oil industry. While there, he heard about Military Warriors Support Foundation through another MOH recipient, retired U.S. Sergeant First Class Leroy Petry, who had been awarded a mortgage-free home through our Homes4WoundedHeroes program. The application and vetting process took some time, but once he was approved everything was set. Military Warriors Support Foundation had a home in the area thanks to a generous donation from Wells Fargo. Contractors were hired to ensure everything would be perfect for Clint, his fiance Kelly, and the rest of their family when move-in day arrived.
“We’ve been around a while, we’re a non-profit that provides various programs to support our combat-wounded heroes and Gold Star spouses,” said Ken Eakes, Executive Director of Military Warriors Support Foundation. “I would like to say that this is the 50th state that we’ve presented a home in over the years. Not only is this home being presented to such a great guy and family, it closes out being able to donate homes in all 50 states.”
Volunteers and Service
The Wells Fargo employees in Minot volunteered the day before the key turnover ceremony to help put the finishing touches on the home.
“The house has been donated and is ready to go, but there were just a few finishing touches to make it more homey,” said Cassandra Fry, a Branch Manager for Wells Fargo in Minot. “A lot of that consisted of landscaping, flowers, and the finishing touches of what makes a house a home. We’re really proud that every single team member that works in Minot was able to come out and contribute in some way.”
This, according to Clint, is part of what makes Minot special and a place worthy to call home.
“From the moment I got here, there was just something so special about this community,” said Clint. “The year I came here was the same year we had the flood, and to watch this community come together in a time of adversity and help each other out, it’s just a testament to the grit, spirit, and service of this state, this community, and what this country represents.”
For the Wells Fargo team in Minot, it’s all about making sure Clint understands that he, his family, and other veterans like him are a welcome and respected addition to the community.
“Anything I can do to help out fellow veterans is a huge deal for me and very dear to my heart.” said Rhet Volk, a U.S. Army veteran and a personal banker for Wells Fargo in Minot. “It’s really easy with Wells Fargo, because they’ll come up to you and offer you the volunteer opportunity so all you have to do is say yes. The managers did a really good job of getting everything together which made it easy for the rest of us to come here and make sure Clint and his family feel welcome.”
A Welcome Addition to the Community
Then the day came to award Clint the key to his mortgage-free home. There was a ceremony to honor him for his service and sacrifice to our nation. The ceremonial color guard from Minot Air Force Base presented and dipped the colors while local singer Marsha DesLauriers sang the National Anthem. Two state senators were on hand, the governor sent a representative to speak, and the Mayor of Minot who delivered remarks.
“I appreciate the opportunity to allow us to welcome you home and welcome you to an even bigger part of Minot,” said Minot Mayor Shaun Sipma. “I know you’ve been here since 2011, and we are deeply honored to have your family as Minot residents. The city of Minot truly does hold a very special place for our military men and women. Given the fact that we have a great community that is so family-friendly, it honors us to have you here.”
During the ceremony, Perry Hilzendeger, Executive Vice President of Wells Fargo Home Lending, spoke to the crowd about ensuring service like Clint’s doesn’t go overlooked.
“Wells Fargo takes our commitment to our military very seriously. The home donation program is just one example of the many ways we continue to give back to our military and our veterans,” said Perry. “We value and understand what home ownership brings to Americans. It represents financial success, it represents family, and it represents the key and core fundamentals of success in our country and we’re proud to be part of helping many Americans achieve that goal of home ownership.”
Then Perry presented Clint with the ceremonial key, signifying that he was officially home. When given time to speak, Clint talked about several things. He spoke about what makes a house a home, as well as the 8 men who sacrificed everything to ensure he was able to find the feeling again.
“I can truly say I didn’t get here by myself,” said Clint. “There were eight men that I served with who are no longer here. Gallegos, Kirk, Hardt, Thomson, Martin, Mace, Griffin, and Scusa. Those eight men gave up more than was ever required of me and made sure I was even able to come home. If it wasn’t for those men I wouldn’t be here.”
Home At Last
Then Kelly and Clint toured the place they would bring their families together and call home. After walking around the premises, they were already making plans for the future. Clint said that he knew the family would need to move in and the kids would want to pick out rooms before any other major decisions could be made. In the end, Clint was thankful to all involved parties for helping him find a place he could call “home.”
“I’ve just got to say, from the very bottom of my heart, being able to be a recipient of a mortgage-free home through the help of Wells Fargo and Military Warriors Support Foundation, what they have done here, coming together, providing something that is more than just a physical structure, but the ability to have a future follow on mission,” said Clint. “A spot to have a home, build a family, have a sense of community. It is more than any four walls and some paint could ever do. It’s something much more meaningful and deep than any of that. It’s that next mission.”
Each home awarded by Military Warriors Support Foundation comes with three years of Family and Financial Mentorship, a program that aims to help combat-wounded veterans and Gold Star spouses reduce their debt and create healthy budgeting habits. To learn more about how our programs help support combat-wounded veterans, Gold Star spouses, and their families, visit www.militarywarriors.org today!