story and photos Jeannie Smith, special to The City Wire
SPRINGDALE — During Friday night’s (July 6) festivities at Rodeo of the Ozarks, a wounded veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Sgt. Angel Martinez, and his young family were presented with the key to a new mortgage-free home by Lt. Gen. Leroy Sisco, CEO/founder of the Military Warriors Support Foundation.
Country superstar Kix Brooks and Tom Reed, president of the Rodeo of the Ozarks made the presentation.
Martinez was hit by an explosive device in Afghanistan and suffered injuries to his head and leg. The family will now receive not only a home but follow-up support from the Military Wounded Warriors Support Foundation, a nonprofit whose goal is to provide support for combat wounded military members and their families.
The surprise home giveaway was sponsored by Walmart took place just before the National Anthem at the start of the rodeo, as cowboys with hats in hand listened to the announcers talk about America’s wounded veterans. Sgt. Martinez and wife, Casey, and daughter, Charlotte, appeared surprised to be the intended recipients.
Sgt. Martinez was visibly moved.
“I am humbled and just a little in shock. I am so happy for my wife and my daughter,” he said.
Charlotte Martinez was equally shocked.
“It was a total surprise. I could not believe it when I heard our names, I don’t have words, this just means so much to me, I am so proud of my husband,” she said.
Brooks performed for U.S. troops in Afghanistan on behalf of the USO in December 2010.
“Visiting Afghanistan and spending time with the troops there profoundly changed my life,” Brooks said. “I cannot imagine what they go through. If I came back a different person after visiting, I cannot fathom what it is like to come home a wounded veteran and try to assimilate into civilian life. We owe them so much, more than we can ever repay them, so it is our job to take care of them and see they have the best transition possible. Rodeo President Tom Reed said he was proud the rodeo board was able to get Brooks to perform for the Martinez family and fans, but also honored to have Lt. Gen. Sisco of MWWSF on hand to present the key. Sisco, himself a wounded veteran with 42 years of service, understands the needs for support in many areas of life after veterans return home.
Brooks joins other country stars who have supported MWWSF, such as Tim McGraw, Ronnie Dunn, Daryl Worley and Toby Keith. Brooks’ rodeo Rodeo concert is part of his ongoing solo tour. He spent the last two decades as half of country music’s successful duo Brooks and Dunn.
Combat-wounded military veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan from all branches of the armed services are eligible to apply for the program. More information can be found by clicking here.