001 // our projects
U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Stephen Netzley was encouraged by his two older brothers to join the military in 2005 with hopes of a brighter future.
Money was always tight for Netzley growing up and he made a lot of personal sacrifices at an early age to help his family make ends meet, including dropping out of high school at 15-years-old. Netzley had never owned his own bed before, so with the promise of guaranteed shelter and three meals a day, he enlisted in the United States Army as Cavalry Scout and began basic training at Fort Knox.
In May 2007, Netzley experienced what he calls “the most traumatic day” of his life. While overseas in Afghanistan on a mission to escort Afghan soldiers, Netzley’s unit was ambushed along the route. They lost around 18 Afghan soldiers and several American soldiers were critically or severely wounded. The convoy was immobilized, and their manpower was decimated.
The events of that day still haunt Netzley and the memory of preparing the bodies of the lost soldiers to be received contributes to his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
By 2009, Netzley’s service related injures included lower back pain that quickly escalated. As a result of operations involving dismounting mountains and being tossed around in trucks due to rough terrain and explosions, the discs in Netzley’s back progressively got worse, and he battled perpetual, radiating pain in both of his legs. Because of his physical limitations, Netzley was assigned to the Wounded Warrior unit where he helped advocate for other single soldiers. He took on an active role in the community and hosted numerous morale building events for local veterans.
After being medically discharged from service, Netzley enrolled in a local community college. Faced with adversity, Netzley persevered and became actively involved in multiple school honors organizations and clubs, eventually volunteering to complete a thesis as an undergraduate student and graduating Magna Cum Laude from the University of Houston.
For his bravery and service in the U.S. Armed Forces, Netzley was awarded an Army’s Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Combat Action Badge and a Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) Service Medal, among other accolades.
Netzley and his daughter recently moved back to Texas to be closer to his family. Netzley is enrolled in college and plans to get a degree in social work and work with veterans.
Operation FINALLY HOME along with Perry Homes, The Howard Hughes Corporation, the Houston Texans and the Greater Houston Builders Association are thrilled to provide the Netzley family with a custom-built, mortgage-free home in Bridgeland located in Cypress, Texas.