The best gifts are often the most unexpected.
Army Staff Sgt. Stephen Netzley and his daughter were visiting Precinct 4’s Meyer Park in November when they noticed a parade of decorated vehicles approaching.
Their surprise quickly turned to joy when representatives with Operation Finally Home, the Houston Texans, Perry Homes, and The Howard Hughes Corporation emerged to inform them that they would receive a custom-built, mortgage-free home in Cypress.
Netzley said knowing that his family will always have a home offered him peace of mind and security.
“It’s going to be in an amazing neighborhood in a very safe place,” he said. “Hopefully, a place we can live in at least the rest of my life. It’s everything I could have asked for.”
Money was always tight for Netzley as a child. He had never owned a bed before, so with the promise of shelter and three meals a day, he enlisted in the Army in 2005 and began basic training at Fort Knox, Ky.
After deploying to Afghanistan, Netzley says he experienced the most traumatic day of his life in May 2007, while escorting Afghan soldiers on a mission. Enemy combatants ambushed Netzley’s unit, killing 18 Afghans and wounding several Americans.
The day still haunts Netzley and has contributed to his post-traumatic stress disorder.
As the years progressed, Netzley developed service-related injuries to his lower back. The rigors of active duty and driving over rough, mountainous terrain worsened the discs in his back, causing him persistent, radiating pain in both legs. Because of his injuries, Netzley was assigned to the Wounded Warrior Program and medically discharged.
Newly returned to civilian life, Netzley enrolled in a local community college. He became actively involved in multiple school honors organizations and clubs, eventually completing a thesis as an undergraduate student and graduating magna cum laude from the University of Houston.
For his bravery and service, Netzley received the Army’s Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Combat Action Badge, and a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
Netzley’s story drew attention from Operation Finally Home, a national nonprofit dedicated to building homes for wounded, ill or injured veterans and their families, which selected him to receive a new home in the master-planned Bridgeland community. Construction will begin in early 2021.
Watch the surprise announcement here: