A North Texas veteran was surprised Friday with an unexpected groundbreaking for her new home.
Former Navy medic Luisa Velez was told that she was being taken to an interview about the new home.
But then the SUV in which she was a passenger was surrounded by police vehicles and flashing lights.
“I thought there’s somebody important behind us, maybe pull over,” she said.
The mayor of Irving was there to greet her when she arrived, and a crowd of people was waiting to celebrate the turning of shovels.
“They said we were just doing a meet and greet to calm my nerves. I definitely did not think this was going to happen. I’m blown away,” Velez said.
The City of Irving donated the homesite. The organization “Operation Finally Home” will oversee the home construction, donated by Winston Homes.
The latest news from around North Texas.
The firm promises to build a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house with dark quiet space for the migraine headaches the disabled veteran experiences after serving as a combat medic on two tours of duty in Iraq in 2003 and 2004.
“It has been a coping process, definitely. The VA has helped me a lot,” Velez said.
The house will have a good size yard with open space across the street that Velez said her 10-year old son Spencer will enjoy.
“I think it’s a nice spot,” Spencer Velez said.
The Dallas Builders Association helped arrange the groundbreaking.
“It's a 21st-century barn raising just with all the hands that come together, donations, generosity to make this lot a home,” Association Executive Director Phil Crone said.
The City of Irving has also donated two surrounding lots on either side of the Velez homesite for two more veterans' families.
Crone said homebuilders are willing to donate, even in these challenging times for material and labor.
“They realize that the challenges that veterans like Miss Velez have faced are even more severe and they face them every day,” Crone said.
Velez currently lives in Duncanville.
“I am absolutely fine with Irving. It’s in the middle of everything, really. I can go to Dallas. I can go to Duncanville, anywhere I want to go,” she said.
The construction could take 6 or 7 months.