He used all his strength to stumble towards an approaching soldier for help. And then he realized that soldier was the shooter.
John prayed because he knew there was no way he would get out of this alive on his own.
And then during the longest minute of John's life... the shooter stopped, looked right past him, and continued into a nearby building. John was spared.
No one but John knew where the shooter had gone and so when 3 other brave soldiers arrived on the scene and came to John‘s aid…
...although bleeding from his throat at an alarming rate, John managed to whisper, "He's in the brigade."
While John was struggling for his life, I was at home doing the regular things I do every day.
I had no idea that just a few miles away, our lives were changing forever until a friend called to tell me there was an active shooter on base.
When John's Captain showed up at our front door 30 minutes later, I couldn't bring myself to open it. I went numb.
John's Captain was on the other side of the door knocking and knocking with news of whether John was alive or dead.
And I was crumpled on the other side of the door, shaking my head ‘no' because I didn't want to hear what he might say.
And then came the most beautiful words I'd ever heard, "Open the door, he's alive!"
Doctors say it's a miracle that my husband survived that day. Even with John's quick intervention, four service members died and 16 more were injured.
Every day, I thank God for sparing my husband.
And every day I pray He'll give us the strength to face the horrible scars the shooting left on John and our family.
I'll never forget when they first let me see John in the hospital. I would not have recognized him as my husband of 11 years.
The only way he could breathe was through a tracheostomy tube in his neck.
The next few months involved a medically induced coma, painful surgery, and grueling rehab.
But afterward my husband, like all the brave men and women who sacrifice everything for their country, would say, "It was going to take a lot more than a .45 to take a Green Beret out."
He never complained. He never gave up.
When doctors said his voice box was damaged beyond repair, two months later John was talking again.
When they said he'd never use his arm again because the bullet had lodged deep into the nerves of his shoulder, John fought through months of intense rehab to regain use of his hand.
But as brave as he was in his physical recovery, under the surface, my husband was broken.
No matter where we were – the grocery store, the doctor, or even church – he would scan the room with hyper-vigilance, constantly on the lookout for danger.
There were endless nights worrying about how he would ever provide for us and be the husband and father he had been before the shooting.
John's life being spared was a miracle.
But now we prayed for another miracle to get our family through our uncertain and fragile future living with John's disabilities.
When they say that God works in mysterious ways, they aren't kidding.
Because our second miracle was a cowboy named Dan Wallrath who walked into our lives during our darkest time and told us we had been chosen to receive a specially adapted, mortgage-free home from an organization called Operation FINALLY HOME.
The miracle home would be built specially to accommodate John's injuries and it would be funded entirely by the American people as a "Thank You" for John's service.
What can I tell you about this home?
That it saved our family by putting a roof over our heads? Yes.
That it saved John knowing his family was safe in a secure home of our own? Yes.
That at Fort Hood John stood face-to-face with evil and every day this home reminds him that people are good, that God is good, and that the sacrifice he made serving our country was worth something? Yes.
This house -- built with the love and generosity and respect from the American people -- does all that.
That cowboy, Dan Wallrath, founded Operation FINALLY HOME 15 years ago to provide severely wounded, ill, or injured veterans and widows of the fallen with the #1 most impactful "Thank You" they could ever receive from the American people...
...specially adapted, mortgage-free homes to call their own.
Dan saw the plight of our veterans who came home from Iraq and Afghanistan with brain injuries, without limbs, with severe burns, and much more.
Often these brave warriors can't dress themselves, get up and down stairs on their own, or remember simple tasks -- never mind secure a job that can pay the rent and put food on the table for their families.
That's why Operation FINALLY HOME builds these miracle homes to accommodate each veteran's specific injuries to make everyday tasks easier.
And that's why I hope you'll help another family like mine today.
- If a veteran needs all the family bedrooms on the first floor so he or she can get to their toddler more quickly on their prosthetic legs – they give it to them.
- If a veteran who's lost his legs and arms – or both – needs a motorized lift to get in and out of the tub without the help of a spouse or parent – they do it.
- If a veteran needs a plain, dark room to retreat to when everyday sights and sounds trigger PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) episodes filled with the screams of their wounded platoon mates – they build it.
Whatever a veteran needs to live the rest of their lives as independently as possible, they provide it.
And they gift the home to the deserving family 100% mortgage-free so a severely wounded veteran never has to spend another anguished night worrying, "How will I ever take care of my family again?"
But Operation FINALLY HOME doesn't do this life-changing work alone.
#1. Dan's first step in providing a mortgage-free, specially adapted home for a severely wounded, ill, or injured veteran is to find a builder who's willing to donate his services free of charge.
#2. Then Dan turns to the local community for donations of the land and building materials.
#3. Then Dan finds a family to bless with this miracle.
#4. And the final step in building this miracle home involves you.
After finding patriots to donate the land and the bulk of the building materials, Dan and his team at Operation FINALLY HOME have to come up with $87,500 to finish building one home.
That certainly seems like a lot of money to me.
But Dan says he always knew that with God's help he'd be able to raise that $87,500 for each and every home. Why? Because Dan believed in the American people.
He knew if he could just find those patriots who wanted to help, they would respond like wildfire.
And that's why I'm writing to you today.
Dan and Operation FINALLY HOME have changed the lives of an amazing 191 wounded veterans and their families – including ours.
Will you help them build their next specially-adapted, mortgage-free home for Aaron Zurn and his family?