Veteran gets new home, storm shelter thanks to Operation Helping Heroes


by Gene Kang

Posted on July 12, 2013 at 1:23 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 12 at 5:30 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS) -- The community is coming together in Hikes Point to build a new home and  storm shelter to protect military hero and Gulf War disabled veteran, Sgt. John Gatz.

"On a personal level it helps me feel safer for myself and my family," Gatz said.

With the new cement comes a new foundation for Gatz, his wife and three children.

The family's home of 12 years became toxic - filled with dangerous black mold. Unsafe for the disabled veteran who suffers from PTSD and a traumatic brain injury from Afghanistan.

Gatz said the storm shelter is more than just a shelter. Psychologically, the shelter is a safety blanket for his new home and his family.

"It comes in good when you think about Henryville and Pioneer Village when the tornadoes came through," Gatz said.

Operation Helping Heroes and UAW Local 862 joined forces in June to gut the house, replace dry wall, add insulation and a new chimney. Downstairs the framework went up for an office, bedroom, bathroom and new HVAC system.

Michael Morgan, with Operation Helping Heroes, said: "John was going to absolutely lose his house and he would have lost all hope."

A veteran, like many, uneasy with asking for help, but Gatz slowly came out of his shell and learned sometimes heroes need help, too.

"There's people that are going to help you if you just look to your fellow veterans," Gatz said.

Operation Helping Heroes still needs $10,000 to finish the project.

Click here if you would like to help donate to this project.