U.S. Navy veteran Chris Turpin, right, hugs and thanks Andrea Kephart of Operation Homefront as he sees his new home for the first time Tuesday in Rocky Mount.
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Telegram photo / Alan Campbell

U.S. Navy veteran Chris Turpin, right, hugs and thanks Andrea Kephart of Operation Homefront as he sees his new home for the first time Tuesday in Rocky Mount.

Group, bank provide house to veteran

By John Henderson

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It’s been a long time since Chris Turpin has been able to push his wheelchair into his bedroom and get a good night’s sleep.

In his rental in Virginia Beach, the door wasn’t large enough for the disabled Navy veteran to push through.

“I’ve been sleeping in my recliner in the living room for two-and-a-half years,” he said.

That all changed Tuesday, when he and his family moved into a new home in Rocky Mount on Briar Glenn Road with wide, handicapped accessible doors. The home was donated to them through a nonprofit group that assists veterans.

He and his wife, Virginia, became teary-eyed when a key to the front door was handed to them and they were given their first tour of the home Tuesday by an Operation Homefront official.

“It’s perfect,” Virginia Turpin said as she walked into the home.

The home, which is their first, was a foreclosure that was donated by Chase Bank, which is another sponsor of the program.

Their children, 5-year-old C.J., 8-year-old Jackson and 12-year-old Skylar, excitedly ran through their new residence and throughout the yard during the tour.

Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit with more than 4,500 volunteers, has met more than 590,000 needs of military families since its inception in 2002.

Its Homes on the Homefront program has given out mortgage-free homes to veterans, with Turpin being the first one in North Carolina.

“We’ve matched 83 of the first 100 (veterans with homes), and they are 19th ones to move in,” said Andrea Kephart, an Operation Homefront official who greeted the family Tuesday at the home in Rocky Mount.

Janet Ware, vice president of Chase Bank’s military and veteran’s affairs team, said the program was started about two years ago.

“It’s part of our overall commitment to award 1,000 mortgage-free homes to wounded vets and service members in need,” Ware said.

She said Chase works closely with Operation Homefront, with the bank investing $30,000 to $50,000 per home to fix the foreclosured properties up.

“It’s all about helping vets and service members transition to civilian life and setting them up for long-term success,” she said.

Chris Turpin said he couldn’t believe how well his family was being treated.

“I just can’t believe that there are people out there who do so much good for people,” he said. “It’s just amazing the level of professionalism, just how much they care. That’s what really took me back.”

Country music superstar Tim McGraw lends his support to the program, and the Turpins got to meet him at a recent concert in Charlotte, Chris Turpin said.

“They have taken us on this whirlwind ride that ends right here at this house,” Chris Turpin said. “It’s been an amazing journey, for sure."

Turpin served in the Navy from 1994 to 2004, serving in the Persian Gulf, and injured his back to the point that he now must use a wheelchair.

“I was ordinance man in the Navy. I lifted bombs and put them on airplanes all day,” he said. “The strain of lifting for years got so bad all the disks in my lower back had disintegrated.”

Chris Turpin said his wife had applied for the home online the rough the Operation Homefront program.

And she is familiar with the area.

“My wife’s family grew up in Wilson 20 miles down the road,” he said.