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Home free home: Texas nonprofit builds house for MOH recipient

American Flag (Unsplash/Lucas Sankey)

Ty Carter had mixed emotions as he addressed the crowd standing before him Thursday in the driveway leading up to his brand new, donated house. The former Army staff sergeant and Medal of Honor recipient was grateful for the community and volunteers that came together to provide him this house, but his mind was on his fellow veterans.

“I feel guilty — like I don’t deserve this,” said 38-year-old Carter, donning a tan suit and his Medal of Honor while squinting into the midday Texas sun at a crowd of more than 150. “The only reason I have this award, or this house, is because on a very bad day, I instinctively did something right.”

The house, given to Carter debt-free from the Texas Sentinels Foundation, sits on 10 acres in rural Bastrop, about 40 miles east of Austin. During Thursday’s unveiling with volunteers and members of the Bastrop community, Carter said he looks forward to making the home his own — a place where he can “tinker with gunsmithing,” keep bees and chickens, garden and spend summers with his three daughters.

Carter, who now works primarily as a motivational speaker, moved from Washington state and settled into a small RV park in Bastrop about a month ago, and was determined to fly under the radar, he said. But people quickly learned of his Medal of Honor and his heroic efforts in Afghanistan on Oct. 3, 2009, which were documented by CNN’s Jake Tapper in the book “The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor,” which is slated for the big screen.

Carter was one of two soldiers to receive the medal for conspicuous gallantry at Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan, where he served as a cavalry scout with the 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. His efforts that day left him with shrapnel wounds, hearing loss and post-traumatic stress disorder—for which received a Purple Heart. Both he and Army Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha received the Medal of Honor in 2013.

“Aren’t you supposed to be famous?” Carter said someone asked him.

During his remarks, Carter made sure to reassure the crowd that he is no different than they are, offering a scenario in which someone they love is stuck in the middle of a 10-lane highway and hurting.

“Every single one of you has the ability to step up and do what’s necessary for those you love,” he said.

‘Wonderful feeling’

Carter walked through the house, smiling at the military memorabilia and touches of home adorning the walls. Above the front and back doors hung two black powder muzzleloaders — replicas he built.

“I’m the one who does most of the cooking, and that stove is awesome,” he said looking at the kitchen.

The Texas Sentinels Foundation’s mission is to provide post-9/11 veterans with support adapted to their needs. On average, the Houston-based foundation receives about 100 requests a month for assistance. Executive Director Susie Barlow said this is the 23rd home they’ve given to a veteran in less than 12 years. They’ve also given out 1,500 life scholarships that support veterans in various endeavors.

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” Barlow said of Thursday’s home giveaway. “The foundation feels blessed that we can bless wounded warriors and their families to be comfortable enough to propel themselves into a new life.”

The foundation acquired in-kind donations or deep discounts for most of materials and labor needed for the 2,600-square-foot home, said Steve Edmonson, the team leader on the project and a Bastrop real estate agent. He’s the one who connected Carter with foundation. The two are friends, and Carter approached him about two years ago to help him purchase a house in Bastrop using his VA loan. Edmonson took it one step beyond, and Carter is the first Medal of Honor recipient to have a home built by the foundation.

Joking that he was the “professional beggar” on the project, Edmonson used his knowledge of the community to garner support.

“The Bastrop community has been through two major fires and floods, and they still found it in their hearts to really give,” he said.

Movie role

Once Carter gets settled into the home, he’ll be busy with his new role working with the movie adaptation of “The Outpost.” He’s signed on as a co-producer and subject matter expert. A couple of weeks ago, actor Caleb Landry Jones, who will portray Carter in the film, came to Bastrop to hang out with him. Orlando Bloom and Scott Eastwood also will star in the movie.

When he was young, Carter said his mother worked in a movie theater, and he, too, spent time working in one between his stint in the Marine Corps and the Army.

“It’s a small childhood dream of mine to work in movies,” he said.


© 2018 the Stars and Stripes

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