CRESTVIEW — Former Staff Sgt. Michael Tate has moved a lot in his 20 years in the Army. The medically retired soldier ticks off numerous duty assignments in the United States along with a series of international deployments like Korea, Germany, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq.
But now he, his wife, Lisa, and their daughter, Hanna, are putting down roots in Crestview.
"We're done moving, I've put my foot down and said 'I'm not moving anymore,' " Tate joked after he and his family got their first look Thursday at the newly renovated mortgage-free home they received from the organization Building Homes For Heroes and J.P. Morgan Chase Bank.
The three-bedroom, two-bath, 1,760-square-foot home was donated by J.P. Morgan Chase Bank and renovated by Mathis Construction Group of Gulf Breeze. Improvements include a remodeled kitchen and master bath with granite countertops and a pergola and deck in the backyard.
The Tates are the 168th family to receive a home from Building Homes For Heroes, which was founded in 2006 to provide mortgage-free new or renovated homes to injured military veterans and their families.
Tate joined the Army in 1995 because he wanted to continue his family’s long legacy of military service. Tate was deployed in Iraq 2003 when his team's vehicle struck a roadside bomb while returning from a mission.
Tate was blown from the vehicle and suffered a concussion, burns on his arm and a spinal cord injury that persists to this day. The incident was also the beginning of his long battle with PTSD. He also suffers from neuropathy in both legs, knee and shoulder pain, and a traumatic brain injury.
After Tate's medical discharge from the Army, the family decided they wanted to live in Florida and moved to a rental home in Pensacola.
They became the newest residents of Crestview on Thursday after they toured the home and received the house keys.
"We're excited to live in Crestview," Tate said. "We're excited to explore our new community and get to know it a little bit better."
That's music to the ears of people like Kim Valdyke, director of construction for Building Homes for Heroes.
"Our veterans, every day that they serve they write that blank check to our country," Valdyke said. "When they get wounded, most of them don't know what comes next. They don't know how they're going to provide for their family."
Valdyke said the mortgage-free homes helps reduce the stress of veterans still healing from their wounds and "just makes them know their family is safe; they have a good place to live."