MINNETONKA, Minn. (WCCO) – A wounded Minnesota soldier is being recognized with a very special gift.
Justin Utecht was given the keys to a house in Minnetonka on Friday.
“It’s absolutely gorgeous in there,” Utecht said. “For a single guy it’s pretty good.”
U.S. Bank, Freedom Alliance and Five Brothers Default Management Solutions partnered together to donate the home as a kickoff to Veterans Day weekend.
Utecht served in Iraq from 2006 to 2008, and has struggled adjusting to life back at home due to post-traumatic stress disorder and migraines.
“The real heroes aren’t here,” Utecht said. “They’re dead. I have friends that died. They are heroes.”
U.S. Bank Vice Chairman Dick Payne says the goal of the “Heroes to Homeowners” program is to help put veterans on the path to success as civilians.
“He has come home and we’re trying to help him achieve his dreams and get on with a normal life,” Payne said.
U.S. Bank and its partners put $50,000 into a foreclosed home in Minnetonka, fixing it up before presenting the keys to Haugen for free.
“We’re very proud to be associated with them in this project, giving this home to an American hero,” said Tom Kilgannon, president of Freedom Alliance.
As he toured his new home, Utecht was overwhelmed.
“It means the world, it really does,” he said. “I’m thoroughly grateful, but it means more to me that veterans are being recognized.”