Neighbors Petition to Stop Bronze Star Recipient From Building a Home in Their Area, and You Won’t Believe Why
Sep. 27, 2013 8:32am Liz Klimas
A two-time recipient of the bronze star who served two tours in Afghanistan, where as a result of combat he lost hearing in one ear, might have felt some security for his wife and three children when he found out they qualified for a Habitat for Humanity home in Illinois.
But U.S. Army Sgt. Brian Wood, who is still an active member of the National Guard and works as a warehouse manager, is receiving less than a warm welcome from some his new neighbors as petitions have been filed against the construction of the house, the Peoria Journal Star reported.
sgt brian wood with family and rep aaron schock
Sgt. Brian Wood with his wife Julie and children and Rep. Aaron Schock when it was announced earlier this year they would receive a Habitat for Humanity home. (Photo via Peoria Journal Star)
The issue? That the Habitat for Humanity home would not fit in with the rest of the homes in Morton — more specifically, they’re worried the house would be made of wood, not brick.
Phil Luciano for the Journal Star reported Matt Sommer, a four year resident in the neighborhood, saying he saw a petition with about 10 signatures regarding the Habitat house.
“Do you realize, that it’s going to made of wood, not brick?” Sommer recalled of a woman about 75 years old saying when she knocked on his door. “It almost makes you feel you’re not welcome.” — Sgt. Wood
When Wood returned from Afghanistan, one of his major worries was a lack of affordable housing for his family. This is what led the 28-year-old father to Habitat, according to the Journal News. The veteran had to qualify for the home and is excited to get into the neighborhood, which is a suburb of Peoria.
“We were blessed to get to go to Morton. We know it’s wonderful community,” he told the Journal News.
When he learned about the petition against the wood home, Wood said he and his wife were surprised and “really hurt.”
“It almost makes you feel you’re not welcome,” he told the newspaper.
Lea Anne Schmidgall, executive director of the local Habitat for Humanity chapter, told Luciano with the Journal Star that neighbors were too quick to jump to conclusions, noting that the charity makes sure the houses it builds fit in with surrounding homes.
“If we have to add brick, we’ll do it,” Schmidgall said.
Construction of the home is set to begin in the spring.
Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL) announced in July that he would be the Master Building Sponsor for the project, meaning he would assume financial responsibility for it.
“It’s a tremendous honor for me to sponsor the Veteran Build home for Sergeant Brian and Julie Wood. The Wood family is the embodiment of a generation who stood up in response to the attacks on September 11, 2001,” Schock said in a statement at the time.
“Brian’s exemplary military service speaks for itself and includes two Bronze Stars. As a military spouse, Julie answered the call of duty alongside her husband serving as the unwavering foundation for their family and raising their three children while Brian was deployed,” he continued. “The Wood family has sacrificed immensely over the last decade in service to our country. This Habitat home is a small token from myself and a very grateful community for what the Wood family has done for all of us.”