Group Helps Political Parties Build Common Ground

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22, 2008 - It took a Massachusetts troop-support group to get the country's two major political parties to find a sliver of common ground, literally, during this election year.

During each party's convention, Homes for Our Troops will present a wounded veteran from each of the communities where the Democratic and Republican conventions are being held with keys to a specially adapted home.

The timing and locations are no coincidence. Everything was very carefully planned between Homes for Our Troops and representative of the Republican and Democratic national committees.

"The RNC and the DNC, that's one of their things that they do," said Dawn Teixeira, Homes for Our Troops vice president and chief communication officer. "They converge hundreds of people into these cities, [and] they like to leave something nice behind. That's why the conventions are involved."

The Credit Union National Association is at the center of it all, she said. Involved in the conventions because of lobbying interests, the association helps the parties fulfill their desire to give back to the communities in which they hold their conventions.

With the mission of "People helping people," the association saw what Homes for Our Troops was doing and decided it fit the parties' mission perfectly. "They saw us and they said, 'What a perfect way to give back," Teixeira said.

To get the two houses built took a fair amount of effort on the part of Homes for Our Troops, despite the backing of the two powerhouse parties, because each project was started from scratch. "We had to seek out some vets to say, 'We have this wonderful opportunity. We're going to build you a house,'" Teixeira said.

It was months ago that Homes for Our Troops shocked Travis Strong and Marcus Kuboy with the news that each would receive a home built to accommodate their unique needs. During each of the conventions, the wait to move into their new homes will be over.

Ceremonies are scheduled to turn over the keys to Strong on Aug. 27 in conjunction with the Democratic convention in Denver and to Kuboy on Sept. 1 in St. Paul, Minn. The Republican convention takes place that week in Minneapolis.

Strong was on a patrol during his second tour in Iraq when the Stryker armored combat vehicle he was riding in was hit by a roadside bomb. He lost both of his legs because of the incident.

When he, his wife, Misty, and their children, Sean and Brianna, get the keys to their new home in Denver, they will be moving into the 30th home that Homes for Our Troops has completed since October 2005.

Kuboy was injured in a Humvee explosion while serving in Iraq last year. Both of his legs were severely damaged. He also suffered a traumatic brain injury, a broken arm, back and jaw.

After months of recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here, he continues rehabilitation at the Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Center in St. Paul.

While the benefits of the projects are the primary focus for all parties involved, the irony isn't lost on both political parties' operatives. That was evident when they released a joint advertisement for their home-building endeavors.

"There's not much Democrats and Republicans agree on, but we all agree on supporting our troops," reads a joint Democratic and Republican advertisement. "That's why the Democratic and Republican National Conventions are proud to join ... Homes for Our Troops in building specially adapted new homes in Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul for a seriously wounded servicemember and their family from each of these communities."

Homes for Our Troops is a supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.

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