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Disabled veteran 'blessed' to receive home from CDSA

Enid News & Eagle - 3/25/2023

Mar. 25—Disabled Air Force veteran Joshua Schmidt was grateful after receiving a new home Friday from Community Development Support Association.

"We are so blessed, and there is no way we can ever thank everyone for all they have done," Schmidt said. "I feel like I can put a solid foot down and move forward in my life."

The project, known as "CDSA's Welcome Home Project," gave a mortgage-free, new three-bedroom home to the veteran who returned home to Enid to restart his life.

Family, committee members, volunteers and donors attended the celebration to present the key to Schmidt, his wife Rachel and daughter Cassidy.

"Without the help of the community and our commitment to recognize the sacrifices veterans have made, this would not be possible," said Carla Stratton, CDSA board chair. "We thank everyone who helped make the project possible."

Schmidt also was given a Quilt of Valor covered with a large flag and eagle by a local organization. He thanked the group and recognized several of those attending who helped see his family through the process of the building and coming home to Enid.

"This is such a wonderful welcome home for him and our family. We are just so happy he made it home ...," said Schmidt's sister, Kema Schram.

The project first broke ground in November 2018 and faced numerous challenges until it recently was completed.

The project was the brainchild of Geoff Clark, who returned to his hometown of Enid after retiring from a 28-year career as a defense contractor. Cheri Ezzell, executive director of CDSA, and Clark had worked with similar nonprofit projects in Dallas.

In 2019, the framework for the home went up in four days with the help of World Mission Builders.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought all volunteer work to a halt for months. After things began moving again, prices in the construction industry rose. Clark and the first family chosen to receive the home both left Enid for job opportunities during this time.

But CDSA remained committed to the veteran home project, and found a new purpose when the Schmidts decided to come home.

Schmidt is an Enid High School graduate who enlisted in the Air Force just five days before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

The following two decades of service would be hard on Schmidt, who retired as a technical sergeant and found himself needing a place to heal upon retiring from the military.

He and his wife, Rachel, and their 9-year-old daughter decided that place would be his hometown. Schmidt had numerous medical issues that resulted in 100% disability.

Byrd is the education reporter for the Enid News & Eagle.

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