RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A Gold Star family is getting a new start in a new city, and their new home comes mortgage-free from SunTrust.
Tanya Palmer received keys Saturday morning to a house in north Raleigh, where she will move soon from Hubert, North Carolina.
Palmer’s husband, Marine Corporal Charles Palmer, died in Iraq in May 2007.
“He was one of the most caring but quiet men,” Palmer said.
“He was actually out of the Marine Corps when we met, and when he said he wanted to go back in, I said ,OK’,” Palmer added.
The couple married in January 2006, shortly after Corporal Palmer re-enlisted. He moved to Camp Lejeune and she followed in the fall of 2006.
About six months later, a roadside bomb in Al Anbar province exploded near Palmer’s Humvee, killing him and another Marine.
Tanya Palmer and her children remained in eastern North Carolina not far from Camp Lejeune, but after her father died in January, she said she needed to find a new direction.
Palmer said her rent was too high, and support benefits will decrease as her daughter and son reach their late teenage years.
This past winter, the family participated in Snowball Express, an annual event for children of military members who died while in service.
Palmer said she learned about the Military Warriors Support Foundation, which provides homes and a wide range of programs for wounded service members as well as surviving families. She applied for the Homes 4 Gold Stars programs.
In early March, Palmer got a call from Katie Slattery, a Military Warriors financial and family mentor. Slattery told Palmer she would receive a mortgage-free home in north Raleigh.
“She said ‘This is going really fast,’ and I’m like, ‘OK, what do I gotta do?’ I didn’t get the address until two and a half weeks ago,” Palmer said.
“It’s beautiful. It’s way more than I expected. I even told them, ‘If you’ve got a two bedroom house that’s in the middle of nowhere, I don’t care.’ I can never tell everybody how much I appreciate this.”
Neighbors, firefighters, and Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane greeted the Palmer family as they arrived at their new home Saturday morning. Local and regional representatives from SunTrust were on hand to welcome the Palmers home.
Local and regional representatives from SunTrust were on hand to welcome the Palmers home.
This is the eighth mortgage-free home provided by SunTrust through the Military Warriors Support Foundation, which has presented keys to more than 700 families nationwide. SunTrust previously donated houses in Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, and Fayetteville to wounded veterans, but this is the first in the Triangle and the first to go to a Gold Star family.
SunTrust previously donated houses in Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, and Fayetteville to wounded veterans, but this is the first in the Triangle and the first to go to a Gold Star family.
The program provides more than a home. Military Warriors also offers counseling on careers, financial planning, and other support.
“Tanya’s familiar with the area and she has family that’s not too far away in support. We don’t like to put families where they’re going to be an island and trying to figure everything out on their own,” Slattery said.
“I will work with Tanya for the next three years on a monthly basis and help her feel really settled into the home and successful so the home is a blessing and not a burden. Then at the end of three years we’ll go through an actual closing and deed the house over to her, free and clear.”
Mayor McFarlane said it is great to have people like Slattery providing assistance for a three year period with aspects of home ownership and life.
“There’s so many different pieces of support that families need, whether it’s a veteran who’s just come out of the service and is looking for work, or a family like a Gold Star family,” the mayor said.
“To just have that kind of support and working through finances and everything is incredible, and it ensures long-term success.”
Palmer said she’s gotten through the past decade through the support of friends and family as well as the growing number of assistance organizations.
She has two close friends who are also Gold Star wives and encourages victims and survivors to connect with others in similar situations to form a community.
Larry Hall, a Marine Corps veteran selected in January as secretary for the North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, said there are people across the state and country who want to find ways to support and help veterans.
“Organizations like this bring them together and help them do things that make a significant difference in families lives,” Hall said.
“We’re trying to get more of them so we can insure the community knows where they can get support and people know the names of organizations they can join and make a difference.”
Tanya Palmer said the mortgage-free home will allow her time to complete classes necessary for her to obtain her real estate license.
“Within the next year I’ll be back to work, and I’ll have a brand new career I never thought I would do,” Palmer said.
“I can breathe, and not have to worry. Start for myself because the last 10 years has been (a challenge) for my kids and my family.”
The Foundation’s next home dedication will be next month in Chicago.
In order to eligible for the Military Warriors Homes 4 Gold Stars program, an applicant must be an unmarried spouse of a veteran who was killed in combat or during combat training, and must not currently have a mortgage. More information is available at https://militarywarriors.org/programs/