By Ann Rowland
When Marine vet Warren Cottrell Jr. arrived in Pamlico County, North Carolina last Saturday with his wife and two daughters, he thought it was because he was a finalist to receive the Hero’s Home they were there to tour. What he didn’t know at the time was that the home was already his and the trip was all a ruse to surprise this disabled vet. A casual photo op with the man who donated the lot quickly turned into a joyous occasion full of screams of disbelief, tears and hugs as the family received the news.
Cottrell joined the Marines in 1997 and suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2004 while serving in Iraq. This new home that is twice the size of his current 900 sq. ft. living space will help to relieve some of the worry that Cottrell has about his family. It will also help him to focus on a recovery that he has at times neglected.
“I have been really focused on my recovery the last year and a half,” Cottrell told The Sun Journal. “For many years, I didn’t do what I was supposed to do. It is a really rough road. I have been trying to live my life right — no alcohol or anything like that. God showed me that good things do happen to good people.”
The Hero’s Home that now belongs to the Cottrell’s is still being built but temporary housing has been arranged for them while they wait to move in. The Dorman’s wanted them to be able to enroll their two children, Sara and Faith, in local schools so they wouldn’t have to change schools when the home is ready.
“This is our house! This is our house!” was Cottrell’s wife Maria’s reaction to the surprise announcement.
The year-long project to get this home built became a passion for Richard and Mike Dorman who head an organization called Military Missions in Action. According to their website, MMIA has provided over $2,000,000 in programs and services since its inception. The Dorman’s worked very hard to bring public awareness to this project so that they could attract as many donors and volunteer workers as possible to bring the project to completion.
The reality of the new house hasn’t completely set in and Cottrell finds the entire experience amazing.
“Maybe the first day we stay there, it will hit me,” he said. “It is just too good to be true. You could live 10 lifetimes and never get this chance. Mike Dorman is a hero to me.”