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Saturday, Mar 28, 2015

Wounded vet, family set roots in Hernando


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Now that they have a home to call their own, Heather Smith can joke that her garage is bigger than their old apartment.

Anthony and Heather Smith, along with their three daughters — Layla, 1, Destiny, 2 and Alyssa, 4 — were living in a 600-square-foot, one-bedroom Lakeland apartment until Friday, when they were given the keys to their new home in Weeki Wachee, tucked away in a neighborhood off U.S. 19. Their new house is about 1,900 square feet, with three bedrooms.

“The girls and Anthony will have their own space,” said Heather Smith, who is the full-time caregiver for her husband, a former Army medic wounded in Iraq.

The Smiths were granted the home through the Military Warrior Support Fund, an organization working toward giving 1,000 homes across the U.S. to combat wounded veterans without a mortgage. The house, a foreclosure, was donated and renovated by Chase Bank.

Heather Smith said the home will help them “begin to deal with everything that has happened. It will give us roots, friends and people who care to help us get through this.”

The Smiths officially received the keys to the residence during a small ceremony Friday morning. Well-wishers wiped their shoes on a welcome mat before going in to take a look, and the house was empty except for a small reclining chair and television on the floor — playing a cartoon for the girls — and cookies in the kitchen.

The family arrived with an air mattress to sleep on, and possessions packed into a vehicle.

Commandant Marion Kelley from Marine Corp League Detachment 708 gave the Smiths a check to help with furnishings, and the DD214 Foundation gave the family a gift card to help with expenses as well. Law enforcement, including Spring Hill Fire Rescue and Hernando County Sheriff’s officers, as well as veterans, stopped by to wish the family well.

County Commissioner Diane Rowden, who was on site to welcome the family to Hernando County, will continue to accept gift cards on their behalf. Residents interested in giving money to the family can send a check payable to The Smith Family Charitable Trust to SunTrust Bank, 1 Jefferson St., Brooksville, FL 34601.

Other donated items can be sent to Habitat for Humanity, 19450 Cortez Blvd.; St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Store, 1291 Kass Circle; and Paul and Jerry’s Self Storage, 10161 County Line Road.

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