Veteran Receives Free Home With "Notes of Love" - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Veteran Receives Free Home With "Notes of Love"

Posted: Jan 19, 2018 5:13 PM Updated:

MILTON, Del.- A New Jersey veteran and his family haven't moved yet to Sussex County, but they've already been welcomed home.

Retired Army medic Sgt. Shaun O'Brien is receiving a free home in Milton as part of the national non-profit Operation Finally Home. Friday, the O'Briens came down for a walk through, but were surprised with "notes of love."

Members of the community and people from across the country mailed in handwritten notes thanking the O'Briens for their service. Those notes were stapled to the house's framework, and will be sealed in the drywall.

"We've had close to 140 recipients of these homes and what they remember are these notes," says Operation Finally Home Executive Director Rusty Carroll. "When they still struggle with their physical healing, their emotional healing or their spiritual healing--and they've had tough days or what it may--when they come through that threshold, they still know they're surrounded by love and support by people in the community and all over the country."

Neighbors in the Red Fox Run community came to welcome the O'Briens, and wrote notes of love in permanent marker on the beams as well. Sgt. O'Brien called the experience overwhelming.

"We knew we were coming down to meet with the builder and we really didn't know much more than that," he tells WBOC. "To see the outpour of support and well wishes, it's incredible. It's very humbling."

But Friday's walk-through had yet another surprise, this time for Sgt. O'Brien's service dog Lee. Lee helps Sgt. O'Brien with his PTSD. The group A Hero's Welcome Delaware gave Lee a STAR award--their first ever for a canine.

"There's unconditional love they give to these men and women who serve," says Rosely Robinson, the group's director. 

The O'Briens house is being built by the Lewes Building Company. Principal Partner Kathleen Leebel says both she and her husband have military and government family members, so taking part in this was a no brainer.

"It's been a very, very positive experience all around," she says. "I'm very grateful for the service that the O'Brien family has given our country and it's amazing to give back."

When the house is finished, it will be deeded to the O'Briens mortgage free. A dedication for the O'Briens' new home will take place this spring.  

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