Homes donated to wives of three fallen soldiers

Feb 28, 2013

The widows of three fallen soldiers received mortgage-free homes earlier this year through Bank of America’s partnership with Homes for Our Troops, a national nonprofit dedicated to helping seriously wounded servicemembers and their families.

Known as “Gold Star Wives,” Savannah Jirtle, Victoria (Nikki) Redding and Luisa Vargas shared a common bond as they each experienced the unthinkable, losing their husbands in the line of duty in 2010.

Army Specialists Charles Scott Jirtle and Blaine E. Redding were stationed in Afghanistan when their vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device (IED) in June 2010. Army Specialist Anthony Vargas, also in Afghanistan, was killed in November of that year when his unit was attacked by an IED.

In the months and years following, the women dealt with the stress and pressure of grieving for their husbands and, for Savannah and Luisa, the demands of providing for their families as single parents. Luisa has three children under the age of 11 and Savannah has two girls, ages 6 and 2.

The widows stayed near Fort Campbell, Kentucky to remain close to the strong military support system of the base. Working with Homes for Our Troops, each learned she would receive a mortgage-free home that would suit the needs of her family and ensure they could stay close to Nashville and Fort Campbell.

Bank support for W.O. Smith Music School

The key presentation for the Gold Star Wives was held at The W.O. Smith Music School in Nashville, Tenn. Founded in 1984, the school provides music education to thousands of low-income children between the ages of 7 and 18 in the Nashville community. In 2007, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation gave the largest one-time grant to the school, which enabled it to relocate from two small homes on the famous “music row” to a 22,000-square-foot refurbished facility that includes a music library, recital hall and plenty of space for instruments. The students of the school pay about 50 cents per class.

The donations made to Homes for Our Troops are part of Bank of America’s commitment to provide up to 1,000 homes nationwide through 2014 through property donations to military veteran-support organizations and first responders through other non-profit, community-based groups.

At a key presentation held in February at the W.O. Smith Music School, Vargas said the gift of a home will help her save for her children’s educations. As her daughter played with a red Bank of America balloon, Savannah said, “Now, I have a home for my children forever.”

The key presentation was attended by John Stein, President of Bank of America in Tennessee, and Major General Tim McHale, President of Homes for Our Troops.

“Bank of America has a long history of serving our troops,” said John. “I feel fortunate to be part of an organization that is so deeply committed to supporting our nation’s military. While these donations cannot repay the sacrifices of these warriors and their families, they are a way for us to say thank you.”

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