BELTON — While she was driving along Interstate 35 on Aug. 26, 2011, Karen Podhorn got the call every military spouse dreads.
Her husband had been shot.
If the bullet that passed through her husband’s head had taken a slightly different trajectory, by just a quarter of an inch in either direction, former Army Sgt. Paul Podhorn said he wouldn’t be alive today.
Fortunately, his helmet slowed the bullet down and ever since that encounter with a sniper during his deployment with the 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division to Iraq, he has defied all the odds.
Consider the odds beaten again.
The couple was given a free home on Benchmark Trail in Belton on Monday.
“Words cannot describe how blessed we are to receive this gift,” Paul Podhorn said during the housewarming ceremony. “It’s been a long walk, but I had a lot of people carrying me along my recovery. If it wasn’t for my wife, Karen, I probably wouldn’t have come home.”
The Podhorns and their three dogs will spend their first Christmas in a debt-free home, courtesy of the Texas Sentinels Foundation, Harker Heights ReMAX/Redzone, Bank of America and dozens of volunteers.
“Oh my God. I said I wasn’t going to cry,” said Karen Podhorn, overcome with emotions after seeing her home for the first time in two months. “I can’t believe this is our house. This is by far the best gift we have ever been given. This has given us a whole new life.”
The four-bedroom home was redesigned with Paul Podhorn’s disability in mind. His head injury caused him to be partially paralyzed on his left side. The one-story home has an open floor plan with wide doors and easy access to bathrooms.
Patrick Maxam, co-owner of ReMAX/Redzone, said the house needed more than $70,000 worth of rehabilitation.
“The house was built in 1986 and when we got the house, it was in terrible condition,” he said. “We were supposed to turn the house over to them before Thanksgiving, but every time we opened up something, something else needed to be fixed.”
Walking through the front doors of their home for the first time, both Podhorns’ jaws dropped and tears of joy were shed.
“Is this really our house? You have to be joking me. I knew it was going to be nice, I just didn’t expect it to be this nice,” Karen Podhorn said, wiping tears from her eyes. “From the bottoms of our hearts, thank you to everyone who helped make this possible.”
The nonprofit Texas Sentinels Foundation donated a repossessed house from Bank of America in need of major renovations to the Podhorns and joined with the Harker Heights ReMax/RedZone brokerage to spearhead and fund the process to restore it.
“From the last piece of wood that went up to the last nail that we hammered, this house was built with love,” said Rey Maxam, the other half of ReMAX/Redzone. “These two people are very near and dear to my heart and I can’t think of anyone more deserving than them.”