Critically wounded by an explosion in 2012 while recovering battlefield casualties in Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. Dominic Perrotte and his team held their position for 30 hours until help arrived ― actions that earned him the Purple Heart medal.
His story was told to a nationwide audience on New Year’s Day at the 126th Rose Parade® in Pasadena, California. The 2015 parade ended with a closing ceremony that celebrated Dominic’s bravery and dedication to duty, calling his “the most inspiring story of all.”
After a veteran is awarded a home in the foundation’s Homes4WoundedHeroes program, the family moves in and begins a three-year family and financial mentoring program, while the foundation continues to hold the deed to the home. The mentorship helps the family transition to life outside the military and ensures they have the tools and skills they need for sustainable homeownership. Upon successful completion of the three-year mentoring program, the foundation officially transfers the deed to the veteran.
With millions watching worldwide on television, Tim Sloan, head of Wholesale Banking, and Tyler Smith, head of Wells Fargo’s military home donation program, joined Andrea Dellinger of the Military Warriors Support Foundation to award Dominic a mortgage-free home.
“Here’s the key to your new home in Hampton, Virginia,” Tim told Dominic in a ceremony that featured soldiers from the 11th Armored Calvary Regiment and the Riverside City College Marching Tigers band. “Thank you again for your service.”
“This has been so amazing ― we’re all kind of speechless at the whole thing,” said Dominic, who climbed aboard a Wells Fargo stagecoach with his wife and son to join the parade as the last entry. “Everybody with Wells Fargo and the Military Warriors Support Foundation has really touched our hearts.”
Dominic, who had applied for assistance from the foundation’s Homes 4 Wounded Heroes program in 2014, had been told that he and his family would be honored in the Rose Parade, but not about the home donation.
“It took my breath away,” he says. “I feel inspired to start this new chapter of my life.”
Dominic’s home is the 200th Wells Fargo has donated since 2013 to the Military Warriors Support Foundation and other nonprofits. It’s part of Wells Fargo’s Military Affairs program commitment to provide housing, career transition, and customized financial education to service members.
“Like many Americans, our heroes have a desire to own a home, but with the battle injuries they have, there can be obstacles to making that a reality,” says Lt. Gen. Leroy Sisco, founder and CEO of the Military Warriors Support Foundation. “These homes help to fill a significant need for veteran housing, and presenting them with Wells Fargo lets the veterans know that people care.”
Added Tim, “As we start off the New Year, we could not be more excited to honor Dominic and help him achieve his goal of homeownership. We salute Dominic and all current and past service members and their families.”
Dominic credits his wife and strong family support with his slow-but-steady reintegration into civilian life and continued recovery from a brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. He retired after nine years in the Army, including tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Tournament of Roses tradition
Dominic’s home donation and stagecoach ride is the latest moment in a Wells Fargo Rose Parade tradition that dates to 1991 when eight horses pulled the company’s first float.
On Thursday, Wells Fargo recognized the nonprofit Villa Esperanza Services, a Pasadena-based agency that cares for and teaches children, adults, and seniors with developmental and other disabilities. For 21 years, Wells Fargo team members have served on the nonprofit’s board of directors.
“We were privileged to ride in the parade with families representing the more than 600 families we engage with each year,” says Villa Esperanza Services CEO Kelly White. “We’re thankful to have community supporters like Wells Fargo that understand we are part of the daily solution for families in need, and one of the only nonprofits extending a full continuity of care to children and adults alike.”
The 2015 Rose Parade marked the first time that Wells Fargo’s Stagecoach Appearance Program had three stagecoaches go down the parade route. Lovester Law, the program’s head, says the event was among nearly 60 stagecoach appearances Wells Fargo made across the nation this holiday season.
“What better way to start 2015 than to help someone like Dominic begin a new life with a new home and to thank military members for their service,” he says.