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Homes For Heroes "paying it forward" near Joint Base Lewis-McChord

Army families from JBLM became first from Pierce County to receive checks

Spc. Sean Caldwell, a Black Hawk crew-chief assigned to the 2-158 Attack Helicopter Battalion, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, and his wife, Emily (center) also received a check for $1,312. Melissa Hatfield (right), Homes for Heroes realator affiliate, gave

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. - Homes for Heroes, a program dedicated to serving America's heroes from a number of professions, to include the military, is now available in counties surrounding Joint Base Lewis-McChord. HFH will give discounts on real estate agent commissions, home inspections, lender costs and closing fees to any service member who is either buying or selling a home in an area where a certified HFH affiliate is located.

In the wake of the 9/11 tragedies, Homes for Heroes was formed. As a type of citizens' response initiative, it was a way for members of America's real estate industry to say "thank you" to heroes across the nation. In February, Homes for Heroes was able to certify two affiliate agents in Puyallup, Wash., bringing the program to Pierce County.

HFH is available to all military personnel, firefighters, public safety officers, teachers and health care workers. For Joint Base Lewis-McChord, service members buying or selling a home in Pierce County, now have a new option to consider.

"It's our chance to show our appreciation to those people who have chosen to put their lives in harm's way, so that others may know a greater sense of health, safety and freedom," said Steve Fryer, real estate agent in Puyallup. "Its one of the best ways I can think of for a community to give back to the heroes who serve it." Fryer, along with Mellisa Hatfield, both realtors in Puyallup, are the only two Homes for Heroes realtor affiliates currently located in Pierce County.

All real estate agents in the program give back 30 percent of their gross commission from each home sale - five percent goes to Homes for Heroes - the other 25 percent is applied as credit to the hero buying or selling the home. For example, if the real estate agent's commission from the sale of a home is 3 percent, then for a $200,000 house, that's a $6,000 commission. From this, the HFH affiliate agent is offering to give $1,500 of their own paycheck, back to the hero.

This all became quite real on April 15, when, in the same transaction, two Army families from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, became the first from Pierce County, to receive a check from Homes for Heroes.

Upon purchasing their new home in Puyallup, Spc. Phillip Riccio, an infantryman assigned to 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, and his wife, Britany, received a HFH check for $1,312.

"I couldn't believe how easy the whole process was," Britany said. "It was such a blessing, and truthfully, the extra money was my selling point, because the refrigerator wasn't coming with the house at first. So I was getting a little stressed and thinking the whole thing may not happen, when our Homes for Heroes affiliate (realtor) told me that I could use the HFH money to buy the fridge that was already there."

While Britany was handling the details of the Family's home purchase, her husband was in Afghanistan with his unit serving a nine-month combat tour.

"Phillip is so excited that we're not renting anymore," Britany said. "He's especially happy that he will have ‘our' home to come home to."

The party who sold the house was also an Army family. Spc. Sean Caldwell a Black Hawk crew chief assigned to the 2-158 Attack Helicopter Battalion, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade, and his wife, Emily also received a check for $1,312.

According to Marie Isle, HFH director of affiliate services, the organization is diligently working to integrate housing rentals as a standard part of the savings program.

HFH has now expanded its discounts beyond the home buying and selling process with their newly associated "Friends of Heroes" program. The Friends of Heroes program was established through the combined efforts of realtors, lenders and other real estate-related service providers who have teamed up to offer even more rebates and discounts to those who qualify. According to Isle, some 750 companies, agents and lenders, are connected with the program across the country. More than 7,178 people logged on in 2012, to request a referral to a local affiliate.

As Hatfield emphasized, each person should exercise their own due diligence when choosing an agent or lender, but whatever they choose, Homes for Heroes will be there to show support, not only through financial appreciation, but also by pointing a person in the direction of businesses that want to work with, and give back to America's heroes.

To contact an affiliate, go to

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