An Ankeny veteran and his family will soon call Polk City home once their new house is built.
U.S. Army Specialist Nathan Mason and his family (wife, Cassie, and their children, Emma, 2, and Carter, 4 months) will be the first Iowa family to benefit from Operation Finally Home, a non-profit organization that honors wounded, ill or disabled veterans and widows of fallen soldiers by providing them with new, custom-built, mortgage-free homes. A groundbreaking was recently held at the site where the home will be located, 1408 Washington St., and construction is expected to be complete this spring or summer.
Mason, a Purple Heart recipient, joined the Army in September 2005. He was wounded in eastern Afghanistan in 2007 when his position was ambushed. During the ambush, he sustained a gun shot to his left leg and fractured his skull after falling and hitting a tree after being shot.
Mason and his wife received the news they had been chosen for the project while attending a Dierks Bentley concert at the Iowa State Fair this past summer. Mason said they were under the impression they were asked to attend the concert as part of a military appreciation for veterans.
"It took a while for it to sink in. We didn’t believe it even when we got home that night," Mason said.
Knapp Properties donated the lot where the ranch-style home will be built by Ironwood Homes of West Des Moines. Ironwood Homes, along with several contractors, will donate time and materials toward the home. Through these donations, the home will be nearly free of cost for the Mason family.
Jon Sieck, co-founder of Ironwood Homes, said the company learned about Operation Finally Home while attending a builder’s show in Las Vegas earlier this year. When they heard a home had never been built in Iowa through the organization, he and co-founder Bill Knapp III decided they would volunteer their business to build one for a veteran.
"Both Bill and I just have a strong appreciation for all our military men and women who serve our country and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to do it," Sieck said.
The Masons’ existing home has stairs, which Mason said will not suit his disability once he gets older. The family is also outgrowing their home now that they have two children. Once completed, their new home will not have stairs and will be Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant, making it more suitable for Mason. While the Masons did not play a role in the structural design of the home, they will be able to decide what kind of flooring, countertops, etc. they want in the home, Sieck said.
Mason said he and his family are grateful for everyone who has made their future home possible. It means "everything" to them and it has taken a load off the veteran’s chest.
"It’s an opportunity for my wife and I to finish what we’re trying to aspire to be," Mason said. "It’s an opportunity to give our kids the world and stability; somewhere to go and no one can change that."