In the summer of 2007, in south Baghdad, Army Staff Sgt. Sloan Sulham Jr. and his men were finishing a patrol of the Al Doura neighborhood when a bomb exploded under the lead Humvee. Insurgents then attacked in a hail of gunfire and grenade blasts.
Sloan and the others tried to take cover. Sloan helped drag one of his men, who was unconscious, behind a wall after one of the grenade blast.
The attack killed five soldiers under Sloan’s command and made headlines throughout America.
Sloan was also injured. He had shrapnel in his arm, shoulder and leg. The deployment was his second tour in Iraq and it would be his last. After 13 years in the service, having enlisted in 1995, and with two other deployments in Korea, he medically retired in 2009. He received a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.
Transitioning from the military became his next challenge.
“Once I got out of the military, I found it difficult to reintegrate back into a civilian lifestyle,” he said. “I also found it difficult to find a job or career where I could use my skill set and experience as an infantryman. This led me to going back to school which proved harder than I had thought because I have a severe learning disability.”
Since leaving the military, the physical and emotional issues have remained. He still has numbness in his left leg and has struggled with survivor’s guilt. On top of that, he’s been stressed about his finances and worries about affording a place to live.. Sloan has not had permanent housing since leaving the military. For the past four years, Sloan and his wife Jaclyn have lived in an 11-year-old RV.
“It has been stressful to me to not have secure housing,” Sloan said. “We have stayed with family, friends and even in a tent. I feel as the man of the house it is my job to provide my family with stable living quarters and I felt as though I failed in that area. I recently finished school and started working again and for the first time in years we have been able to actually start saving.”
Still, saving has not been easy even after completing vocational training and getting a good job as a truck driver. Moving from Florida to become a homeowner in Georgia, where he and Jaclyn wanted to settle down, seemed further and further away. But then a vocational school counselor told him about Operation Homefront’s Homes on the Homefront (HOTH) program.
“My wife and I prayed, gave it to God and applied for two homes in Georgia, one of which we were selected for,” Sloan said. “We were elated when we got the news! Receiving this house is a HUGE weight off my shoulders and gives me peace of mind to know I will not have to keep relocating my family. I feel like I have been given a head start now and can really do a lot with what has been given to me.”
On Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, Sloan and Jaclyn will move into their three-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Savannah. Through HOTH, Sloan will receive financial counseling to build savings, reduce debt and help with budgeting in the future. His Operation Homefront caseworker also helps ensure that the family is successfully reintegrating into the community. Upon program completion, Operation Homefront will deed Sloan the house, donated by JPMorgan Chase, mortgage-free.
“God is good, and we have never been without but we definitely were not able to make the financial commitment to buy a home,” Sloan said. “We feel extremely blessed to be given a home and we would like to thank the donors for being generous and thinking of those who are struggling.”