After dedicating more than 10 years of service to his country, U.S. Marine Corp Sgt. Aaron Zurn, his wife and three children have been gifted a custom-built house to call home.
The home, given to them on Thursday, was built through the collaborative efforts of the Home Builders Association of Dayton, JM Dungan Custom Homes, and Operation Finally Home, a nonprofit that builds homes for disabled veterans with an honorable discharge or widows of soldiers who died in combat.
Zurn suffered several injuries during his time in the service forcing him to retire earlier than anticipated. Last year, he and his wife, Brittany, were surprised at a University of Dayton Flyers basketball game during halftime with the news that they were selected to receive the new custom, mortgage-free home in Vandalia.
“When Aaron was first injured, we really didn’t know what we were going to do because that was pretty much the plan for our life. He wanted to be in the military until he could retire,” Brittany Zurn said. “It just means so much to us to come here and have this home that’s built perfectly for us. This is everything we could’ve ever wanted in a home and it’s so specific to who our family is.”
Brittany Zurn is a first-grade teacher and was concerned for her family financially and feared her husband wouldn’t rank for disability. She said the home takes the weight of providing for the family off her husband.
“You can see so much relief and disbelief in him that this is his house,” she said. “If there were ever a time I would have to stop working, I could do that and we would still be OK.”
The Zurn family lived in North Carolina and returned to Ohio and has been living with family for the past four years. Coincidentally, the house is just across the street from many of the Zurns closest friends.
Aaron Zurn, a Vandalia native, started his military career with two tours in Iraq as a rifleman. In 2010 he reenlisted as a Marine Special Operations Forces operator where he was deployed twice.
He has received over five medals and awards for his service including two Combat Action Ribbons, Navy Achievement Medal, Navy Accommodation Medal with a Bronze V, Marine Corps Commendation Medal and more.
“I think the special part for that is it really echoes what homes mean and it provides a sense of safety, security through the pandemic, homes have become more than a physical structure,” said Eric Farrell executive director of the Home Builders Association of Dayton. “The smiles on the kids’ faces, the smiles on the Zurn family, you can’t replicate that.”
Aaron Zurn suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, bilateral hearing loss, knee injuries and other injuries from being a paratrooper. In his final deployment he fell from a helicopter and was knocked unconscious, leaving him with a traumatic brain injury. His wife is his primary caregiver.
“We worked closely with the builders association and JM Dungan homes are a member of the Home Builders Association, so they work through their association to get a lot of product and service donations,” said Rusty Carroll, executive director of Operation Finally Home.
The remaining costs for services and the homes mortgage was paid for by individual and corporate donations from Lowe’s, Maxwell House, Nationwide Corn and Bouyon, and others. The costs were worked out before the Zurn family were given the news last February.
The family started moving in on Thursday shortly after the keys were handed over.