As part of Operation Homefront's Homes on the Homefront program, Tim McGraw gave a house to veteran Johnnie Gouge during his concert at the Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center in Canandaigua, NY. McGraw greeted the veterans personally and spent some time with them backstage before his concert.
Learn about the Gouge family:
Johnnie Gouge’s decision to join the military was an easy one. He knew that a military career would allow him to attend college therefore providing a bright future. Born and raised in Benton, Ill., Johnnie enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 2002 in St. Louis, Mo.
Corpsman Gouge served as a combat medic in the U.S. Navy for 10 years and deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan four times. As a medic, he provided first aid and trauma care to those injured on the battlefield. In addition, he aided troops in the absence of a physician and monitored their ongoing health. While serving, Gouge sustained numerous head injuries and suffers with post-traumatic stress. In recognition of his sacrifice and service, Gouge earned a Bronze Star in 2009. He medically retired from the navy in 2012.
Soon after his retirement, Johnnie, his wife Rebecca and their three children moved into her parent’s home in East Lansing, Mich. This move relieved financial burdens for the family while at the same time providing them with some much needed support. Rebecca is Johnnie’s primary caregiver and she assists him with daily activities.
Last year, Johnnie Gouge applied for a mortgage-free home with Operation Homefront. Shortly thereafter, he and Rebecca learned that they were being awarded a Chase home in nearby Kalamazoo, Michigan.
The Gouge family has since moved in and now has a whole new lease on life. Johnnie receives treatment for his brain injuries and PTS at the local VA hospital just 30 minutes from their new home. Johnnie’s future plans include starting school and studying computer programming, a dream he has held for many years. Rebecca plans to enroll in community college and pursue a career in nursing or social work.
“This home will allow our children to grow up in a real community,” said Rebecca. “It will also help us concentrate on other aspects of our life and provide a secure future,” added Johnnie. “We want to thank Operation Homefront and Chase for this opportunity. What you do for servicemembers and their families is remarkable. The words ‘thank you’ simply aren’t enough!”
Pictured are Dan Hooker (Executive Director of Operation Homefront Northeast), his wife Tara Hooker, country music star Tim McGraw, Rebecca and Johnnie Gouge (veteran home recipients) and Maureen Casey – JPMorgan Chase & Co., Military and Veterans Affairs, and her husband Andy Mahoney.