After all the lives he helped save in Afghanistan as a combat medic, and the stress disorder from the war that disabled him, Matthew Ostrowski was on the receiving end of the help Saturday.
The help was a house.
“Welcome home!’ ” John Gallina, a wounded Iraq War veteran who is co-founder of Purple Heart Homes, told Ostrowski. “You earned it.”
Purple Heart Homes, a nonprofit organization of combat veterans, teamed with Bank of America and a real estate office to help Ostrowski, his wife, and 2-year-old daughter find the house southeast of Rock Hill near the Catawba Indian Nation reservation. Half of the cost of the house – that came from the foreclosure rolls – came from donations from Purple Heart Homes. The other half Ostrowski will pay on a mortgage through the bank.
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“We hope you can continue to inspire patriotism in the community,” Gallina said.
True to his combat medic service, Ostrowski said of his new home, “If somebody else was in line for it I would definitely bow down and let them have it.”
But this time, Sgt. Ostrowski is first in line.
He is disabled from post-traumatic stress disorder, and described himself years ago as “a broke down combat veteran.” Now this native of Fresno, Calif., 30 years old, has a fresh start with his family.
“I thank everyone who helped make this dream come true,” Ostrowski said.
Purple Heart Homes, based in Statesville, N.C., assists veterans from all wars with home ownership and handicapped access improvements such as wheelchair ramps, said Garrett Garland, a combat veteran who is on Purple Heart Homes’ volunteer board of directors.
“These vets such as Mr. Ostrowski here have earned a hand up in America,” Garland said.
Live Love Realty, a Keller Williams company that is part of Live Love Charlotte, helped secure the property and currently has another place in Rock Hill that it and Purple Hearts Homes officials are trying to match with a wounded vet. Lester Giles of Bank of America, who works with the bank’s military assistance support group and is a Marine Corps veteran, said the bank is proud to help a veteran such as Ostrowski enjoy the “American Dream” of home ownership.
Ostrowski’s wife, Cecilia, proudly showed off the house Saturday before a brief ceremony in the front yard.
“A true blessing,” Cecilia called the house, and the people who helped with the house.
It was Ostrowski, who admitted he has had some rough stretches since combat, who did what homeowners do best Saturday. He raised an American flag on his flagpole. Then this soldier, broken down no more, saluted.
Saturday, in America and on this little street in Rock Hill was Flag Day.
The soldier, officially, was home.