MURRAY - Wounded veteran Charles Casteel has been back in the states for years, but he only truly came home a few months ago.
The Military Warriors Support Foundation awarded Casteel and his family - wife Amanda and daughters Korrine, 5, Zoey, 2, and Siobahn, 1 - the symbolic key to a new, mortgage-free home in Loudon, Tenn. Texas Gov. Rick Perry attended the brief ceremony Saturday in Murray State University's Curris Center.
"It's been life changing for us," Amanda Casteel said through tears. "It's not just a house; it's a home."
Charles Casteel was wounded in 2004 while serving with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment in Fallujah. After he returned, the Casteels "bounced around a lot," living mostly in rental homes, his wife said.
The Casteels have lived in their new residence since October. It's more room than the family has ever had, and it offers the girls a spacious backyard in which to play. Korrine was thrilled at the chance to pick her own room - complete with a closet, she said.
"And my dogs like the backyard, too. It's very, very nice," Korrine added.
The Military Warriors Support Foundation, a nonprofit founded by Lt. Gen. Leroy Sisco in 2007, seeks to provide support for the families of military personnel wounded in combat. Its Homes 4 Wounded Heroes program has donated more than 300 mortgage-free homes to wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. It also offers recipients a three-year financial mentoring program.
"It's more than an organization. They're an extension of our family," Amanda Casteel said.
Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641, or follow @LaurelFBlack on Twitter.