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Ashley Durbin peered inside the front windows Tuesday of the Rineyville house that is scheduled to soon become her family’s home.
Her son and daughter scurried around the porch to get their own looks while her husband, Brett, looked on.
The Bardstown family still hadn’t seen the inside of the 3-bedroom, 1,760-square-foot house that was given to them by a charity that provides assistance and awareness for veterans in need.
The home was provided by Boots in the Bluegrass, the first year a home in Kentucky has been given away as part of a larger effort called The Boot Campaign.
Brett faced challenges working after doing two tours with the U.S. Marines in Kuwait and then Iraq that the mortgage-free house he received earlier this week is expected to alleviate.
His first deployment came three days after graduating from infantry school.
“It was about a month before we crossed the border, and then it was a race to Bagdad,” he said. “Of course, everyone wanted to get there as quickly as possible because that would pose the biggest threat to the whole theater of operation.”
Brett spent time manning a 50 caliber rifle on a Humvee and taking part in some hard battles.
He spent about five months protecting headquarters and service elements and helping as forces poured into the country.
A year later, Brett began his second deployment to Iraq. During that seven months, much of it outside the embattled Fallujah, he was charged with making sweeps with a caravan to look for enemies and find improvised explosive devices.
Those devices took eight of Brett ‘s fellow Marine’s lives, and about 60 Purple Hearts were awarded to the 60 people in his unit.
“It’s getting better,” he said. “I know they’re happy for me, and I know they’re patrolling the streets of gold.”
One Purple Heart went to Brett after one of his sweeps resulted in a firefight with enemies.
One was launching missiles at the convoy. Brett didn’t know he had been struck in the head by shrapnel until one of his comrades told him about the blood dripping down his face.
The loss and dangerous experiences impacted Brett. He came back with Post traumatic Stress Disorder severe enough that he asked not to be deployed again when two more such opportunities came.
His condition has improved, but it still makes it difficult for him to find and keep employment, and the challenge contributed to his family’s house being foreclosed upon.
Since then, they have rented.
Ashley saw an opportunity to apply for a free home available to veterans.
She applied and forgot about it for a long time until a Boots in the Bluegrass representative called to congratulate the family on being selected and get more information to complete the process.
A ceremony in Lexington was hosted by Benchmark Mortgage in Elizabethtown, which supports the charity. The celebration of the Durbins being awarded houses took place the same week as the ninth anniversary of one of Brett’s military friends was killed.
“It was painful when I woke up, but then I realized the opportunity that I was about to receive,” he said. “It’s going to change the way I look at anniversary dates like this because they’re tough, but now I look at being blessed like this.”
Brett said he could never imagine being given a mortgage-free home.
“I can’t even explain it,” he said. “It’s a true blessing from God. Above all, he made this happen for us. It’s a tremendous weight off of my shoulders.”
Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746 or email@example.com.