Over 40,000,000.  That’s how many men and women have served in the U.S. military, with a quarter of these individuals serving in just the past 25 years.

Veterans Day has taken on a special meaning for me because of Built to Honor, our work to build mortgage-free homes for deserving US military veterans and their families. It’s one of those “stop, think and thank” days — 180 degrees from the fun and games of Halloween that we enjoyed just a few days ago. Stop for a minute and think about their service and the sacrifice these men and women have made – giving up time with their families and friends, a job, a home, or their physical or mental health – to serve our country.

While they all chose to serve, each of these veterans, and each Built to Honor recipient, has a unique and very personal story.  It’s humbling and inspiring to hear their stories — where they’re from, why they joined the military, where they served, what they faced. And what it was like to return home.

For many veterans, coming home can be a tremendous challenge; there are so many uncertainties: ‘what do I do next?’ ‘how do I adjust to civilian life?’ ‘where do I live?’ These questions are especially tough to deal with when you’re a disabled vet. That’s why PulteGroup is pleased to partner with great organizations like the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. Program (Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment), which provides severely wounded veterans with the resources to overcome the challenges and make coming home the positive experience it should be.  Most widely known for his role as Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump, Gary Sinise is an Emmy award winning actor who established the Gary Sinise Foundation to serve our nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.

Our newest Built to Honor recipient has dealt with more than her share of challenges. Tara Hutchinson was severely wounded on Valentine’s Day 2006 while serving in Iraq. Her truck was hit by an explosive device with the damage ultimately resulting in the amputation of her right leg and permanent brain injury. Tara has traveled a long path to where she is today: the owner of her own custom jewelry-making business in San Antonio.

I invite you to view the video when Tara found out from Gary Sinise and our great San Antonio team that she would be our 54th Built to Honor recipient.

Stop, think — and thank. To all veterans, including our PulteGroup employees who have served or are currently serving our country, whether in the Armed Forces, as first responders, in law enforcement – on this Veterans Day, and every day, we thank you for your service.

I would personally like to invite you or any family members that have or are serving to be recognized. Please leave a comment of your family’s military service. Again, we appreciate you for your dedication to our country.