• K9s for Warriors partners with real estate, development groups to gift local veteran brand-new home

    By: Courtney Cole , Action News Jax

    Updated:

    A local veteran has a brand-new home thanks to K9s for Warriors, a local real estate company and a development company.

    Action News Jax Courtney Cole was there for the emotional reveal and explains how this home will change the veteran's life.

    Wednesday, Oct.17, marks a new beginning for Army and Alabama National Guard veteran, Rick Smith.

    "It was a total surprise. I had no clue that this was happening,” Smith told Action News Jax.

    Smith was overcome with emotion when he pulled into the driveway of the place he now gets to call home—on Colonial Avenue.

    Smith re-enlisted in the Alabama National Guard after 9/11 and volunteered for deployment to Kuwait.

    While he was there, he conducted convoy escorts and route security as a truck commander.

    During a routine task, Smith suffered severe head trauma.

    After Smith returned home, he soon volunteered for redeployment, but was injured again.

    This injury caused him to be classified unfit for duty due to severe PTSD and TBI (traumatic brain injury.)

    The combination of severe head trauma, TBI and PTSD has affected every part of his life.

    Smith lost his job, attempted suicide, experienced divorce and separated from his children.

    K9s for Warriors helped him turn his life around when he graduated from the program with his service dog, Berkley, in 2015.

    K9s for Warriors, JWB Real Estate and Corner Lot Development told Action News Jax they all worked together for the last seven months to prepare this home for Smith

    They told Action News Jax Courtney Cole seeing his tears of joy on Wednesday makes it all worth it.

    "We are gifting it to that veteran in thanks for all they've done for our community and for our country,” said Alexander Sifakis, the president of JWB Real Estate

    Smith walked us through his new 1,200-square-foot home.

    “I'm very thankful…I'm very thankful. I just don't know how much…how to express the things I feel right now...overwhelming,” said Smith.

    When Action News Jax Courtney Cole asked Smith what part of the house he’s looking forward to decorating the most, he responded:

    “Air mattress and a sheet, OK? Air mattress and a sheet and I'm happy! (Laughs)”

    Click HERE to learn more about K9s for Warriors.

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