The Prodigious Gift: Truck Driver Institute and the Homes for Heroes Program
The Christmas season is a time of joy, surprises, and gifts. On December 14, 2012, Steve Williams received the gift of a lifetime from the Homes for Heroes program.
Steve did two tours of duty in Iraq engulfed by desert sands and blistering heat while proudly serving his country in the US Army. One fateful night in October 2007, the unthinkable happened. On a routine night patrol, the Humvee he was assigned to as a gunner was struck by an IED. As he mindlessly reached for a bottle of Gatorade, a flash of light blinded him.
When he slowly regained consciousness he felt the vibration of helicopter blades radiate through his body along with severe pain in his left side where shrapnel had blasted its way into his flesh. He had no memory of the attack as the helicopter flew through the darkness into Baghdad.
From Baghdad, he was transported to Germany and later to Walter Reed Army Hospital where he received treatment for a broken scapula, a broken arm, and a butterfly fracture which tore the nerve bundle in his left arm, causing partial paralysis.
Recovery and Hope from the Homes for Heroes Program
Steve spent the next three years in physical therapy until he medically retired from active duty in 2010. Though he was released from service, his arduous journey had just begun. He moved back to Pensacola, Florida, only to find himself sitting in an apartment with pins in his arm, his arm in a sling, and not allowed to work per doctor’s orders.
Two years into this encumbered state, he was assigned an Army Wounded Warrior counselor. The counselor convinced him to apply for a house through the Military Warriors Support Foundation: Homes for Heroes. He reluctantly filled out the application, while his skepticism allowed him to have no expectations.
The Homes for Heroes Program Makes a Difference
December 14, 2012, was just like any other day during the holiday season. Outside of Steve’s apartment, holiday decorations adorned the lamp posts as Christmas music blared from every radio station. The phone rang; he answered.
On the other end of the line was Katie from Homes for Heroes saying, “Congratulations on your new home.”
It took several days to sink in that he was awarded an all-brick, fully refurbished home in a nice subdivision in Milton, Florida. Bank of America remodeled a foreclosure from their inventory and gifted it as a write-off to the Homes for Heroes program.
This was an unexpected Christmas present, one unlike any he had ever received. Steve moved into his new home on January 3, 2013. However, it would take another three years of attending fiscal classes, improving credit, and receiving required financial education before he would be presented the deed to the property along with a giant symbolic key during halftime at the Boca Raton Bowl.
A New Start with Truck Driver Institute
When Steve was released to go back to work, his disability and social security were terminated. He struggled to find work so he, with the advice and approval of his counselor, bought a boat and started a successful charter scuba-diving business in February
2015. However, lifting the heavy tanks proved bad for his health, so he sold the business in August of 2019.
The VA designated him as permanently disabled, but sitting at home and going back on social security was not on his agenda. His aspiration was to be productive and have a career.
The previous year he had driven his friend to TDI and sat in on the interview. His friend graduated Truck Driver Institute and now was on the road as a driver. After a heart-to-heart with his buddy and his brother-in-law who was also a driver, Steve decided to attend TDI to get his Class A CDL. He just graduated and is scheduled to start orientation at Schneider on December 17.
He described a semi as 30,000 pounds of awesome!
TDI Creates Opportunities for Truck Drivers
He and his brother-in-law will be teaming up as OTR drivers for the next year. After he gets some experience under his belt, he plans to sell the house that was gifted to him that unbelievable Christmas and purchase his own truck so that he and his brother-in-law can open their own business and grow it into a multi-truck company.
George Bernard Shaw once said, “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them.” Steve Williams has done just that.