My hat is off to a great American, Lee Greenwood.
During the middle of the very busy preparations for his All-Star Salute Concert honoring his 40 years as an entertainer, he remembered the Wounded Warrior. Specifically, he teamed up with Helping a Hero and Huntsville-based Breeland Homes to provide homes for two permanently disabled veterans in the Huntsville area.
This is all part of the 100 homes challenge being orchestrated by Helping a Hero. Their stated mission is to empower severely wounded heroes injured in the Global War on Terror. They partner with organizations to build the wounded hero a specially adapted home designed to restore his or her independence. They live by the motto “Empowering Wounded Heroes, One Home at a Time.” In conjunction with Lee Greenwood, Breeland Homes – one of Huntsville’s premier homebuilders - has provided two homes to this most worthwhile cause. We are very lucky in North Alabama to have received two of the 100 homes.
Last November, the first home from this collaboration between Greenwood and Breeland broke ground. The recipient was Sergeant First Class Scott Barkalow. He was part of a 12-person special forces group sent to Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks, where he was grievously wounded.
I was very fortunate to be able to attend the groundbreaking of the second home on Tuesday, Feb. 2, in honor of a local Huntsville hero Staff Sergeant Michael Brown, a member of the U.S. Army who lost his foot fighting in Iraq 15 years ago. The ceremony took place at Triana at The Crossings at River Landing.
Talking about the injury, Brown said, “So we left the Iraqi police station, maybe three minutes later, I watched a guy step out of a doorway, raise his arm, and throw an antitank grenade at my vehicle. That tank charge melted the armor of my Humvee like butter and completely took my foot off, right above the ankle.”
He was only 22 at the time and had been married to Kimberly for just over a year. His daughter Alyssa was only 10 months old. SSG Brown received a bronze star and a purple heart.
Brown found out about his surprise home at the actual all-star tribute concert nearly four months ago at Lee Greenwood’s tribute concert, “All-Star Salute” at the Von Braun Center.
“We’ve been working with Breland Homes on designing a home that works for this family that has wider doors, a roll-in shower, a roll-under sink, other adapted areas throughout the home,” said Meredith Iler, the founder of Helping a Hero.
Kimberly Brown, Michael Brown’s wife, said they found out after a surgery last year that Mike’s wheelchair was not a good fit with their current home. “He couldn’t even roll into our bedroom, he couldn’t roll into the bathroom,” she said. “He can’t get into the house because there’s a step up in every entryway into the house.”
True to his word, Lee Greenwood took time out from his very busy schedule to attend this ceremony, as well as the previous groundbreaking for Sergeant Barkalow in Athens.
“I want to look them straight in the eye and say thank you, your sacrifice was not in vain and we’re going to help you get on your feet and that’s not a joke,” said Greenwood.
Greenwood not only talks the talk, but he also walks the walk, as exemplified by his efforts as an ambassador and financial supporter of Helping a Hero. He remains true to the lyrics he penned: “And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free. And I won't forget the men who died who gave that right to me.”
Perry Hooper is a former Alabama Representative and currently president of Hooper and Associates in Montgomery. He was the Alabama Trump Victory Chairman in 2016 and an Alabama Trump Team Leader in 2020. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.