Navy veteran Bill Day, a single father of four, was at home on a Wednesday when a Zoom call came in.
It was Gary Sinise.
“I get to be the messenger to tell you that you get to have your entire mortgage paid off by Veterans United. So you’re not going to have to pay for any of that!” Sinise said.
Day was not only amazed by the voice on the other end, he was moved to tears by the gift.
“I can’t even describe; I’m getting choked up,” Day said. “I can’t even describe how this is really helping me.”
According to WFLA, Day’s youngest son is on the autism spectrum. His daughter has done a lot to help him, putting her brother before her own dreams at times. With the mortgage paid off, Day wants to help her achieve her next dream, going college in Texas.
“Even though she applied, I don’t know what the answer is,” Day said. “She’s very smart, has over a 4.0, but two weeks ago, I was like there was no way I could do this. Now I can do it; she’s going.”
This effort was facilitated by Veterans United, which provides home loans to U.S. military veterans
On Veterans Day, Veterans United put $25 toward paying off veterans homes each time someone tweeted “Thank you for your service.” The lender raised more than $2 and a quarter million.
“We have paid off 10 veterans’ mortgages in full — complete — and surprised them today, so it’s been a lot of fun,” Pam Swan, vice president of military relations at Veterans United Home Loans, told WFLA.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), more than 40,000 veterans are homeless on any given night in the country. Far more have homes, but may be struggling to meet mortgage payments as unemployment skyrockets during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Veterans United has helped a small percentage of those veterans by taking mortgage debt off their plate. Now, Day and others have more opportunity to thrive, and help their own families do the same.
“We wanted to get behind every American person that said ‘thank you for your service’ and make that statement mean more,” Swan said. “So, we as a company said, ‘How can we do that?’ And home ownership, it’s one of the ways we could think of doing that.”
Day appreciates the gift immensely, but he wants the world to know, he would have settled for a simple “thank you.”
“I definitely want people to know that saying ‘thank you for your service,’ whether it’s Veterans Day or not Veterans Day, they might not show it, but they appreciate it,” he said.
Learn more in the video below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.