ARLINGTON -- Cami Wilson, 10, thought for a second Tuesday morning, her fingers splayed on her chin.
"I like the living room best," she said. "It has a big TV."
Cami, her two siblings and her parents, Johnny and Elizabeth Wilson, had just received the deed and key to a brand-new luxury home in far southwest Arlington courtesy of veterans support groups, radio station WBAP/820 AM and other sponsors. Johnny Wilson, a former Army staff sergeant, was gravely injured twice during his 2004-05 tour in Iraq. The second time, after he had lobbied to return to his unit, he lost part of his leg.
Adding to the family's struggles, Elizabeth Wilson had a stroke in 2009.
"I don't think there are words I can say to express what this means for our family," she said at a presentation ceremony broadcast live by WBAP. "It's a place where I can watch our kids grow up. It's a place to call our own."
Johnny Wilson, now a business management student at the University of Texas at Arlington, was burned when the Army vehicle he was in touched power lines near Baghdad in 2004. He was flown to the U.S. for treatment and said the Army wanted to keep him home.
But he wouldn't hear it, eventually persuading commanders to let him return.
"On our very last mission before coming back home -- our bags were packed, and we were ready to fly out -- we were hit by a roadside bomb," he said.
Support Our Troops, a nonprofit arm of the Bay Area Builders Association based in the Houston area, assembled a network of donors to provide the labor, materials and cash for the project. Sierra Fine Custom Homes of Trophy Club led the construction of the five-bedroom, nearly 3,000-square-foot home in the 3000 block of Ledbetter Court.
Re/Max of Texas and its Texas Sentinels Foundation provided the $30,000 lot and held multiple fundraisers. The Arlington City Council also voted to forgo the usual building permit fees of $6,000. Mike McKellop, owner of Sierra Fine, estimated the house's value at $350,000 to $375,000.
"This has truly been a community effort," said Daniel Vargas, executive director of Support Our Troops, which has built homes for other veterans in Texas and is looking to do so nationwide.
"What we're trying to do is give these families options for the future," he said later. "We're trying to give them their dreams back."
Patrick M. Walker, 817-390-7423