When Staff Sgt. Jason Beisner joined the Army, he was only 22. A decade later, he was discharged before he was ready to leave, leaving him without a job, with post-traumatic stress disorder and multiple injuries from explosions.
The discharge represented a harsh new reality for the Belleville native, who was hoping to make the military his career until he was ready to retire. After 10 years of being told what to do, what to wear and how to act, Beisner was suddenly on his own.
He sought help from veteran aide organizations and met his wife, Liz, who became an essential part of his support system. Still, the fledgling family needed a little extra support.
That support came on Wednesday, when Beisner and his family were “blessed,” he said, to receive the key to a mortgage-free home donated by Wells Fargo through the Military Warrior’s Support Foundation’s Homes4WoundedWarriors program.
‘Thanks’ doesn’t even do it justice. Jason Beisner, Army veteran and recipient of mortgage-free home
The donation couldn’t have come at a better time, said Beisner, who is now 38. His wife gave birth to a son, Jason Jr., six weeks ago, and the family was living with Beisner’s mother in Belleville. As he and his wife explored their home for the first time Wednesday, tears sprung into Beisner’s eyes.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s very overwhelming.”
The foundation provides support to veterans like Beisner, who are transitioning out of the military and into civilian life. Wells Fargo donates all homes through the organization to veterans wounded in combat. Since 2012, Wells Fargo has donated more than 300 homes valued at more than $50 million to veterans in all 50 states.
Beisner applied for the program more than a year ago. Shortly after he found out his wife was pregnant, he received a call from the organization asking him if he was still interested. He said, “Absolutely.”
You might have been planning on retiring, then you’re cut short. You’ve got to make ends meet and it’s hard sometimes. Jason Beisner, Army veteran and recipient of mortgage-free home
“‘Thanks’ doesn’t even do it justice,” Beisner said. “(Also thanks to) all the veterans’ programs and everybody that helps out veterans because a lot of vets have a hard time getting anything when they come back, especially people that are discharged. You might have been planning on retiring, then you’re cut short. You’ve got to make ends meet, and it’s hard sometimes.”
Amanda Burris, a communications coordinator for the support foundation, said seeing families like the Beisners see the home for the first time is the “best part” of the program. Eliminating the financial burden of a mortgage gives veterans and their families a chance to focus on health or any other issues they might face.
Families also receive three years of family and financial mentoring, providing support for veterans like Beisner who joined the military at a young age and might have never had a chance to learn how to manage finances.
“I like to say this is a hand up, not a handout because it gives them an opportunity to focus on reintegrating back into civilian life,” Burris said. “Just getting back to everyday living is very surreal. A lot of veterans have been in the military since they were 17 or 18 years old, and then they have these life circumstances that change their whole world.”
Heather Hunt-Ruddy, regional president for Wells Fargo, helped welcome the Beisners into their new home.
“Thank you for all you do for your country,” Hunt-Ruddy said.
The Beisners are moving in as soon as possible, and say they plan to invite Liz’s family, who lives in Chicago, to their new home soon.
Beisner served three tours in Iraq after joining the Army in August 2001. He spent his first tour as a field artillery tactical data systems specialist and his second and third tours as a medic. He attained platoon sergeant status before being reassigned to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, where he completed his service as an emergency room tech.
Wells Fargo is a San Francisco-based financial services company with $1.9 trillion in assets. The company was founded in 1852 and employs roughly 260,000 individuals. Wells Fargo provides its services through 8,600 locations and 13,000 ATMs. In 2015, Wells Fargo donated $281.3 million to 16,300 non-profits.
Military Warrior’s Support Foundation is a charity founded in 2007. The charity also provides employment assistance and recreational activities for veterans and their families. The Homes4WoundedWarriors program also serves Gold Star Spouses.