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Military hero gets new home

Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 08:02 AM

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Sgt. Joel Tavera was horrifically injured in Iraq on March 12, 2008, in an attack that killed three others and wounded him and another soldier.

He was severely burned; had a traumatic brain injury; lost part of his right leg, sight in both his eyes and the fingers on his left hand; and had to undergo many painful surgeries.

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue's Kelly Hallman heard Tavera needed a home. When not fighting fires, Hallman is an architect and, among other things, designs houses.

So, with the help of Building Homes for Heroes, a nonprofit group that supports the needs of severely wounded or disabled veterans and their families through building mortgage-free homes, Tavera has a new house.

On Saturday, a parade from the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital took Tavera to his new home at 20007 Outpost Point Drive. The ceremony was attended by, among others, Adm. William McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command.

The 4,200-square-foot, four-bedroom, four-bath home was designed and built by William Ryan Homes to meet Tavera's special needs.

"We want to thank all the hospital and military personnel, the construction team, and all of our supporters for making Joel's dream home possible," said Andrew Pujol, president and founder of Building Homes for Heroes said in a news release.

In recognition of its commitment, leadership, and exemplary work, William Ryan Homes is the recipient of Building Homes for Heroes' Extraordinary Design Award.

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