Texas Sentinels Foundation Inc. recently presented Staff Sgt. Michael Craven with a home, making him the 15th American hero to receive a home from the Houston-based foundation.
The nonprofit foundation that assists soldiers receiving combat injuries during their military service in Iraq and Afghanistan post-Sept. 11, 2001 was founded in 2007 by Richard Filip, owner of RE/MAX The Woodlands & Spring, and his wife, Jeanne. Since starting the foundation, Filip said there has been a flood of applicants, with the foundation receiving about one request through their website each day.
A majority of the applicants are patients at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio and hear about the program from veterans the foundation has helped or through the nonprofit’s outreach efforts. Filip said there are several factors that the foundation uses to determine which veterans the foundation helps.
“We do a lot of due diligence, and there are obviously a lot more qualified applicants than we have the ability to meet the needs for,” he said. “But almost everybody we’ve helped are at 90 percent, if not 100 percent disabled.”
While serving as a U.S. Army Staff Sergeant in Iraq in 2011, Craven’s vehicle was hit by a triple-array Explosively Formed Penetrating device, leaving him with severe injuries. Despite the severity of his injuries, Craven is now able to walk as a result of several major surgical procedures, but recovery will be a daily and ongoing process.
In conjunction with Bank of America, which donates foreclosed homes to the foundation, Texas Sentinels presented Craven a mortgage- and debt-free home in Pearland. Without the responsibility of a mortgage or debt, Craven is now able to fully concentrate on his recovery and studies while attending college with plans to acquire a real estate license.
Texas Sentinels Foundation and its volunteers also serve as mentors to the new members of the community. The foundation helps members get adjusted to the area by finding resources for continued medical care, registering children for school and locating nearby churches, grocery stores, pharmacies and other amenities. Filip commented on the ripple effect of the all-volunteer operation that has become a great way to give back to veterans.
“We are an all-volunteer operation,” Filip said. “Jeanne and I feel like we’re just a ripple in the pond. We may have thrown the stone in, but the ripple effect continues through the efforts of all the individuals who have given time or money, or both, to complete the different projects. It’s been a wonderful outreach by the communities to give back to the veterans.”
For more information or to apply, volunteer, donate money or goods, or to hire a sentinel, visit the Texas Sentinels Foundation website at texassentinels.org.