It was on August 28, 2009, when a life of one of the Kingdom’s own would be changed forever.
That day a handful of America’s sons were on a dismount mission in Afghanistan. One of those service members was Overland Park native Corporal John Eichenberger. John was walking into a village when he stepped on a buried improvised explosive device (IED) and in a flash life would never be the same. Four servicemen were injured along with John but his injury was the most severe. Eichenberger lost the lower half of his right leg.
“I was in the U.S. Army in the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division in the Light Infantry unit for five years,” Eichenberger noted. “We were on the ground constantly, doing running missions and clearing roads for IEDs. I was over in Afghanistan for nine months before the injury and left on a medical retirement.”
He then moved to Texas for rehabilitation and while there he met his wife, Kristen. After a year and a half Eichenberger was fully recovered and he, his wife and two sons left for Arizona where they have been moving from one rental house to the next.
“We were renting in Arizona from 2009 until now,” Eichenberger said. “We’ve just been bouncing around and moving every other year so we’ve never really had stability.”
On November 18, 2012, during the Military Appreciation Game at Arrowhead Stadium, Eichenberger was brought onto the field to be recognized as a VFW Hometown Hero. Much to his surprise, in front of 80,000 fellow Chiefs fans, he was presented with a mortgage free home in Overland Park, Kansas, courtesy of Operation Homefront and Wells Fargo.
“I thought I was coming out on the field to be announced as the Hometown Hero but, wow, I was just in shock,” Eichenberger commented. “Having a home where we can bring some stability to our family and raise our kids is amazing. I’ve wanted to come back to my roots; I’m from Overland Park and I just love Kansas City and am happy to be moving back.”
Operation Homefront’s mission is to “provide emergency financial and other assistance to the families of our service members and wounded warriors.” The organization has 17 programs available to assist military families, one of which is Homes on the Homefront, a program that provides 120-150 houses every year for service men and women.
“This is a great home for his family,” Amy Palmer said, Chief Program Officer from Operation Homefront in Kansas City. “It’s a wonderful house with a beautiful patio and backyard along with a large basement and it will be great for his kids. The house is actually about five minutes from where he grew up.”
Eichenberger received the keys to his new Overland Park home in a ceremony with representatives from Operation Homefront, Wells Fargo and the Chiefs on Wednesday.
“I can’t believe it. This house is amazing! It’s a great opportunity for our family to grow and feel the safety of having a permanent place to be.”
The movers arrived that afternoon to begin furnishing his new home. Eichenberger’s family is flying down on this weekend and can’t wait to see their new place.
“My family is ecstatic and my parents are flying down to be here as well,” Eichenberger noted. “My oldest son is really excited, he can’t wait to have grass in the backyard and get away from 120 degree weather.”
The Eichenbergers are the 70th family of 2012 to receive a house from Operation Homefront. Military families can apply for a house at http://www.operationhomefront.net/homesonthehomefront/AboutTheProgram.aspx.
The Kansas City Chiefs are continually supporting service members and their families. This is just one of the ways that the Chiefs partner with organizations to salute not only our service men and women but veterans. We appreciate all the sacrifices they and their families make on our behalf.