By NICOLE JONES
The building of a specially adapted home for a veteran who lost his vision while deployed in Iraq will kick off in Pearland on Aug. 24.
Homes For Our Troops, a national nonprofit that builds and donates adapted custom homes for injured post 9-11 veterans, will kick off the new build for Army Sgt. First Class Henry Escobedo and his family.
A community kick-off will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 24, at HOPE Church Pearland, 4209 Broadway St.
Born in Guatemala, Escobedo came to the U.S. at age 9 and enlisted at age 19.
“This country has given me everything,” he said, “I felt I had to give something back.”
He first deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 as an Infantryman with the 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor, 1st Armor Division. During that deployment, Escobedo suffered a concussion after falling off a vehicle in Baghdad/Al Kufa-Najaf, Iraq.
Returning home, he noticed headaches and eye problems that worsened during his 2010 deployment to Baghdad, Iraq.
“I thought at first I needed prescription glasses,” he said. “Within three months, I was blind, which was overwhelming. I was 29.”
Now legally blind with minimal light perception, Escobedo was diagnosed with Leber’s Optic Neuropathy.
After diagnosis, he said it was difficult to rely on others.
He found strength through his wife Mayra’s unyielding support. The two met while serving together. “Mayra has stuck with me through thick and thin, she is my light,” he says.
Now medically retired, his main priority is his wife and their son and daughter, Jairo and Jade.
The specially adapted, custom home will be all one level and have ample lighting, since he has only minimal light perception.
“I honestly think the home would just bring an immense sense of happiness and joy not only to me but to my family as well,” he says.
A longtime resident of Texas, Escobedo chose to build his new home close to family.
He is currently pursuing a master’s in clinical mental health counseling.
“Homes for Our Troops has been a blessing,” he said. “It’s a magnificent thing they do.”
To learn more about the nonprofit, volunteer or contribute, visit hfotusa.org.