Jackpot! Veteran receives free Las Vegas home

February 22, 2017 | GET MORE : Social Responsibility

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U.S. Bank donates homes to veterans through its Housing Opportunities after Military Engagement program.

“Get a mortgage-free home in Las Vegas.”

Sgt. 1st Class Joe Haney was out deer hunting last summer when his phone beeped and he glanced at an email with that subject line.

Initially he assumed the email must be spam, but he decided to read it anyway because it was from a reliable source, his AW2 advocate, who is an army staffer assigned to help former soldiers adjust to life after military service through the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2).

Haney is sure glad he clicked.

On Friday in Las Vegas, after completing a formal application and interviews, Haney was presented keys to this three bedroom, two bath house as a gift from Freedom Alliance and U.S. Bank. Thomas Kilgannon, president of Freedom Alliance, helped present the keys before a gathering of community supporters and U.S. Bank employees.

Haney is packing up his belongings and moving from Olympia, Wash. for the opportunity and looking forward to spending quality time there with Makenzee, his 7-year-old daughter who he co-parents with her mother. 

“When you give somebody a house, that’s not a gift. There’s so much symbolic meaning behind that,” Haney said. “There’s nothing better you can offer somebody in their life than a home.”

The 2006-built home was donated by U.S. Bank’s Housing Opportunities after Military Engagement (H.O.M.E.) program, in conjunction with Freedom Alliance’s Heroes to Homeowners program. Chronos Solutions, a real estate services provider, also contributed to the cost of the repairs made to the home.

Haney, 30, joined the U.S. Army in February 2004 at the age of 17 with the sole intention to serve and protect his country. He was deployed three times to Iraq and once to Afghanistan, spending a total of 49 months in those countries, working as an infantryman. 

Haney medically retired from the Army in March 2016. He suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress, severe migraines, back issues and other combat-related injuries. He’s studying biology at the University of Washington, but plans to transfer to the University of Nevada Las Vegas after he completes the move. Eventually, Haney plans to attend medical school or become a physician assistant.

“I enjoy working in the medical field and would very much like to pursue a career in medicine to help others,” he said.

This is the ninth home donated across the country through the partnership between U.S. Bank and Freedom Alliance, a charitable organization which provides help and support to injured service members and military families.

“U.S. Bank is extremely proud to partner with Freedom Alliance to present this home to Sgt. Haney, a veteran who valiantly served our country,” said Clark Wood, Las Vegas market president for U.S. Bank. “This home for Joe and Makenzee is just a small gesture of our thanks and yet an important step to making their dreams become possible."

Haney said he has difficulty putting into words how grateful he is for the home.

“I couldn’t believe that I was selected. I couldn’t believe that it was being shown to me. I was totally blown away and amazed. I’m just so thankful for Freedom Alliance and U.S. Bank and other organizations that partook or helped out in this. It’s a really amazing thing and I’ll never be able to fully express my gratitude for it, ever.”

Sam Black is a Minneapolis-based member of U.S. Bank’s corporate communications team.