Veterans Day 2013: Family of struggling veteran Richard Clark-Bartlett gets keys to new home

1:45 PM, Nov 11, 2013   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- A veteran and father of three girls can finally give them a stable home this Veterans Day as he's handed the key to his newly renovated house.

Richard Clark-Bartlett's story of service to our country is incredible.

Eighteen years with the Marine Corps, Army, and National Guard. Multiple trips to Iraq and Afghanistan. Then, on his final tour, injured and disabled.

That's an amazing life, but it's what happened after he came home that really got Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay geared up to create this home for him and his family.

For the first time in a long time, his three girls have rooms they can call their own.

"I don't like it -- I love it!" oldest daughter Miracle said with a laugh, standing in the yard of their new home, painted blue and white with an American flag draped across the front.

She continued, "We're going to go in there and probably unpack first." "And then celebrate!" middle sister Faith chimed in.

"Home sweet home," added the youngest daughter, Patience.

Their veteran dad, their sole provider, stood next to them, leaning on a cane.

He's disabled and can't work. But organizers say each time a doctor decides he's made some improvement, his benefits and income drop. That has led to some serious struggles.

"We've had a little bit of financial issues," their father Richard Clark-Bartlett explained. "We're trying to get it straightened out. We ended up losing a truck and a home."

In Tampa's Palm River neighborhood, the community has come together to help this struggling hero.

The turnaround began when nonprofit Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay heard their story.

"When they came to us and said that he was transitioning from house to house with three little girls, we knew already that because of his sacrifice to our country we have to help him," Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay director Jose Garcia said.

"We called all our partners and said, 'Hey, we need your help.'" 

Chase donated a house -- a whole house! 

Sears and Rooms To Go filled up the insides with donations. And others offered up windows, tile, and tons of volunteer work.

The final piece -- the key to the front door -- was handed over in a ceremony on Veterans Day.

It's enough to leave this proud hero holding back tears.

"This is overwhelming. I really, honestly didn't expect all this," Clark-Bartlett said.

"A lot of gratitude. A lot of thanks. And a lot of work that people have put in just for me and my girls."

And they've already put the first decoration on the walls in the family's new home.

It's a collage of the images of volunteers and donors who made this better future possible.

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