For Dan Cappo – who served nine years with the U.S. Army, including two deployments to Afghanistan – the prospect of living near his “battle buddy” brought him to Wisconsin.
That friend, who lives in Waukesha, saved his life in Afghanistan, says Cappo, when a downed truck Cappo was working under fell off the jack and would have crushed him if his friend hadn’t warned him a second before. Although he survived, Cappo was left severely injured and unable to work. Operation FINALLY HOME provided Cappo, his wife and three children a custom-built, mortgage-free home in Menomonee Falls. This past July, they moved in.
“The application process does take time,” says Molly Halliday, senior vice president of marketing for Operation FINALLY HOME. “We need to be good stewards to all our donors so we make sure the veteran is ready to handle all the responsibilities of home ownership. Knowing your family is going to have a roof over their head allows them to heal and be a better person in the community.”
Operation FINALLY HOME was founded in 2005 by Dan Wallrath, a custom builder, who witnessed a son’s friend, a wounded Marine, struggle to take care of his home.
The organization now operates in 33 states and has, through partnerships with builders, completed 270 homes. In the Milwaukee area, they have provided six homes so far, in Jackson, Waukesha and Menomonee Falls, and hope to expand to Madison.
“We bring together the community of builders, developers and donors to honor our veterans who have sacrificed so much,” says Halliday, adding that the vets are trained to go to war but receive little guidance on how to return home.
“It helps open up a little more financial freedom, as I’m not able to work,” says Cappo. “Every step of the way, they’ve worked with us for our design input and modified the master bathroom for my needs when I have another back surgery. And I can still provide for my family. It takes a lot of stress out of our financial situation.”