FULSHEAR, Texas - Maj. Gen. Eldon Regua, commander of the Houston-based 75th Battle Command Training Division, spoke to an enthusiastic crowd of veterans, volunteers, elected officials and corporate sponsors at a Homes For Our Troops appreciation dinner held at the Fulshear, Texas, fairgrounds just outside of Houston, Jan. 28.
Homes For Our Troops is a national, non-profit organization founded in 2004 by John Gonsalves of Massachusetts. Their mission is to construct and provide specially adapted homes free of charge for severely disabled Veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The dinner preceded the Homes For Our Troops 3rd Annual Houston Sporting Clays Tournament — a skeet-shooting event presented by Energy Corporation of America and KBR to raise funds for the Homes For Our Troops organization.
With some 50 homes already donated and 30 more currently in various stages of construction across the nation, Gonsalves and his teams of volunteers are strongly committed to helping those who have selflessly served and sacrificed for this country and have returned home with serious disabilities.
"The outpouring of generosity from our citizens at times is overwhelming," said Gonsalves. "The veterans I have met along the way have touched my heart and I am honored to have them as my friends."
Regua, who was invited as the key-note-speaker, told of his visits to Walter Reed and San Antonio Army Medical Centers and gave heartfelt accounts of the enduring spirit and courage of the wounded Soldiers he met there.
"It was truly a proud and humbling experience to speak with them and hear their stories," said Regua. "The thread from my visits with these wounded Warriors is simply this: ‘I would like to get back with my unit as soon as possible, and if given a choice, I would do it all over again.’"
The general, who was meticulously attired in his Army dress-blue regalia, presented Gonsalves with a letter of appreciation on behalf of the 75th Division and thanked the Homes For Our Troops organizers and volunteers for their generous service to the Soldiers.
"The efforts you demonstrate follow in the footsteps of this great American tradition of volunteerism and giving of one’s self and resources," said Regua.
He called on all veterans in the audience to stand and be recognized saying, "All of you have played a key role in keeping our nation free and if a general officer has not thanked you for your service and sacrifice, let me do so... Thank you!"
Regua then made his way through the crowd to pay homage to the veterans and volunteers, awarding his commander’s coin to the wounded Warriors that were there.
The 75th Battle Command Training Division conducts pre-deployment training for all Army component forces in support of the nation’s efforts in the Global War on Terrorism and the general was mindful that over 200 of his Soldiers were presently serving in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
For this, Regua was especially grateful for the contributions of Homes For Our Troops. "When in the history of our nation have we ever had an organization committed to building adaptive homes for wounded veterans? You all are the greatest!"
Energy Corporation of America, Coors Beer and KBR headed a list of corporate sponsors who donated the food, drinks, equipment, items for auction and money, all targeted to build homes specifically designed to facilitate the unique needs of severely wounded war veterans.
"This is a great thing [Homes For Our Troops] is doing for the disabled Soldiers," said John Cromwell, a volunteer and veteran of the Vietnam War. "It wasn’t like this when we came home and I’m thankful to see how the times have changed for the better!"