SGT Rafael Lopez III

Maysville, NC

Home Award Program Recipient

Army Sergeant Rafael Lopez III joined the United States Army Reserves in 2004, attending basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky and completing Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland in 2004. SGT Lopez deployed in December 2005 to Iraq assigned as a vehicle maintenance repairman.

On July 24, 2006 while servicing an armored vehicle from underneath, the vehicle malfunctioned, causing diesel fuel to leak and flames to engulf Sergeant Lopez where he lay positioned. As a result of the fire, he suffered second and third-degrees burns to over 33 percent of his upper and lower extremities, and severe burns on the right side of his face. In addition to his external injuries, he also swallowed small amounts of diesel fuel and suffered internal damage due to smoke inhalation.

Sergeant Lopez was medically evacuated to the 10th Combat Support l in Iraq, where doctors placed him in a medically induced coma. Days later, he was brought stateside to Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio, Texas where again he was placed in a medically induced coma to undergo additional surgeries. He would later awake on August 29 to begin extensive rehabilitation and treatments for his injuries.

While recovering at Brooke Army Medical center (BAMC), he also managed to receive an associate’s degree from Florida State College in Jacksonville.

Rafael learned about Homes For Our Troops from a VFW member who was familiar with the organization and its Home Award Program. Rafael’s dreams of home ownership came true when he learned that a mortgage-free home was available for him in Maysville, North Carolina.

In addition to being able to enjoy a beautiful home with a spacious yard, Rafael says he is grateful for this opportunity of home ownership because of the responsibilities he will be taking on such as budgeting and routine home maintenance. Additionally, he takes comfort in knowing that he can focus on his recovery without the stress of a mortgage, and continues his college studies. He hopes to major in Advanced Psychology and eventually start a career in Human Resources in a corporate setting. In his spare time, Rafael enjoys hunting and target shooting; he also has plans to train for an endurance race in the near future.

Rafael would like to thank Homes For Our Troops and JP Morgan-Chase for this generous gift and those who continue to support the troops overseas and our veterans here at home.