BLUFFTON, Sc. (WSAV) – Often times, when soldiers return home, their fight isn’t over. Many struggle with the physical and mental wounds from war.
Staff Sergeant Clark “Jey” Johnson enlisted in the United States Army in 1996.
“First days on deployment, I could still call, I could still call her, and I knew she was there,” Johnson said, talking about his wife of 18 years, Shana.
He completed tours in Bosnia, Kuwait, and two in Iraq. During his last deployment in Iraq, his tanker convoy was struck by an IED twice within a month, leaving him with head, neck, and hand injuries.
“We’ve struggled a lot of time, been through a lot, a lot of things together, and I know this would be a tremendous, burden, off our shoulders,” Shana Johnson said.
Johnson has struggled fitting back in…
“It’s been difficult finding where I fit in I guess,” he said, “Because what you do in the military doesn’t necessarily carry over.”
As part of PulteGroup’s “Built to Honor” program, Johnson and his family were selected for a brand new house.
“A chance for us to give back to our veterans, by building a home and using our trade partners to help construct that house,” said Laura Ronan with PulteGroup, “And then giving it to a veteran and his family, mortgage free.”
The families get to pick a spot on the company’s map, and the Johnson’s chose to move from Colorado to start their new lives in Bluffton.
“It’s such a small town feel, that’s still veteran friendly and family friendly,” said Katie Slattery, the family’s financial mentor from the Military Warrior Support Foundation, “They’re excited for a fresh start in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.”
Friday morning, the community lined the street in Sea Grass Station with a warm welcome for the Johnsons.
When the Johnsons walked in their new home, they had no idea it would also be fully furnished.
Johnson addressed the crowd at the dedication ceremony Friday, with tears in his eyes, he said, “For all the people who have donated and spent their time working for us to have this, we can’t say enough… thank you.” He paused for a long moment, fighting the tears, and added, “To my brothers who are no longer with us, you remain in our thoughts and prayers.”
This is the 50th house PulteGroup has donated to a wounded warrior in the United States. In Bluffton, the community showed it’s more than just a house, it’s a home.