Veteran provided with mortgage-free home
Published 9:16 am Saturday, February 15, 2020
Standing in a wind-blown parking lot in Manteo, Wells Fargo regional bank president Thomas D. Cline presented the keys to a mortgage-free home to retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Kevin Wallace.
“It’s a pleasure to be here today and be able to present this key,” Cline. “We are all excited to be here with Sgt. Wallace to help him move into his house and to be able to be a part of this. There are few words to be able to sum it up. For most Americans, the American dream is to own a home. So, to be able to help someone to achieve a home, to help someone who has sacrificed to their country, is an honor.”
As part of the Military Warriors Support Foundation Homes4WoundedHeroes program, Cline said since 2011, Wells Fargo has provided 400 such homes, 23 of them in North Carolina. Since 2010, Military Warriors Support Foundation has awarded nearly 1,000 mortgage-free homes and has assisted combat-wounded veterans, Gold Star spouses and their families in paying off nearly $21 million in debt through mentorship.
During the brief presentation ceremony on Friday morning, February 7, NC House District 6 Representative Bobby Hanig, who is also a veteran, welcomed Wallace to Manteo, saying that it is clear to see that the American spirit is alive and kicking here today.
“Military Warriors Foundation is just one example of the support across the nation,” said Hanig. “It is amazing, and I’m honored to be able to be here today to celebrate one of our heroes, and their family. We thank you for your service and your sacrifice.”
Founded in 2007 as a non-profit charity, Military Warriors Support Foundation is working to help wounded combat veterans make a smooth and successful transition from military to civilian life with programs that focus on housing and homeownership, recreational activities, transportation assistance and leadership development. In addition to the mortgage-free homes and payment-free vehicles, families receive three years of family and financial mentoring.
“I do feel like the American spirit is here all around us,” said Wallace, adding that he is pleased to be back in North Carolina.
Wallace said while not a Carolinian by birth, his career started here in 1997 at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Wayne County, then twice at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base in Jacksonville.
“I’ve been blessed to be in North Carolina several times during my career,” he continued.
Stepping into the home, Wallace said he considered the experience to be really amazing.
“I’ve never owned a home,” Wallace explained. “It is a dream come true. Someone mentioned that the American dream is owning a home and I think that is a big part of the American dream.”
Wallace went on to say the turbulence of his career kept him from being in one place long enough to invest in something like that.
“It was base housing or some sort of renting with an early out option in case of transfers,” Wallace continued. “Seems like we sometimes moved a couple of times a year for more than 20 years. So living in one place is going to be pretty cool.”
Wallace, born in San Luis Obispo, California, originally joined the U.S. Air Force in 1997 and then reenlisted in 2001 following 9/11. He completed multiple tours, including a tour in Afghanistan as a combat photographer, received numerous military awards including the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal with Valor. He said his last assignment was with Air Force One under the Obama administration, working mostly with First Lady Michelle Obama and vice president Biden. Wallace retired January 2018.
According to Wallace, his retirement includes more than sitting around. He is currently pursuing his master of fine arts degree in photography at George Mason University as well as a doctorate in media and communications at Leicester University. He said he would like to teach photography to college students while still helping combat veterans heal through art and scuba diving.
Wallace said his wife and son will join him soon. His son is still in Virginia competing in the state high school indoor track finals.
“I think living in Dare County will be different than living in northern Virginia,” said Wallace.