Veteran and purple heart recipient gets keys to a new home in Ypsilanti

YPSILANTI, Mich. (WXYZ) - It's been a long journey home for Army Sgt. Christopher Hemwall and his family but they will be back in Michigan with a brand new home to call all their own.

Not even a ceremonial ribbon cutting in front of dozens of people could take away the intimacy of this moment.
"I'm speechless," Sgt. Christopher Hemwall said, after walking through his new house in Ypsilanti.

Pultegroup donated the newly-build house to the family, as part of its national Built to Honor program for veterans, in partnership with Operation Finally Home.

The house was built from ground up, designer decorated, and will be fully furnished. Best of all, it's completely mortgage free.

Sgt. Hemwall said, "How many people do you know actually are given a free house? It's just a lot for us to comprehend right now."

The Monroe native will leave the army in the coming months, and had worried about moving back to Michigan and finding a job.

"Now I can fully focus on going back to school," Sgt. Hemwall said. He wants to continue to serve as a firefighter. 

His courage earned him a Purple Heart after his tour in Afghanistan, where he was wounded in ambush. Hemwall lost his lower right leg.

But just as he learned to walk again, this too will be a new start.

"We've spent our whole marriage at the hospital, at different hospitals, so it will be nice to have normalcy and have family close by," Sgt. Hemwall's wife, Valerie, said.

Soon the family of three will be four - five, including Hemwall's service dog, Teddy.

Sgt. Hemwall's wife and son will be moving into the Ypsilanti home once the furniture arrives this weekend.

He is still stationed in Maryland, but hopes to move back by Christmas.