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Press Release

Mortgage-Free Home Awarded to Military Family

By Operation Homefront

November 20, 2019

For media inquiries, please contact Mike Lahrman at or call (210) 202-1243.

PulteGroup’s Built to Honor Program Awards Mortgage-Free Home to Dual Military Family in Time for Thanksgiving

Tampa –A local U.S. Navy veteran and his family will be receiving the gift of a lifetime on Nov. 15. Retired U.S. Navy Petty Officer Second Class Jerry Whatts, Jr., his wife Jeaniel, a Navy reservist and their four children, will be seeing for the first time their brand-new, mortgage-free home in Riverview, Florida. The home was built and donated by PulteGroup through the company’s Built to Honor program in partnership with nonprofit Operation Homefront.

 The family was first surprised with the announcement in May and then took part in the official groundbreaking in July. Since then, PulteGroup’s West Florida division, along with their trade partners and suppliers have been hard at work constructing the brand-new, four-bedroom home to welcome the Whatts family home for the holidays.

“This is the best way for us to say thank you to someone for their service and dedication to protecting the freedoms we hold so dear,” said Sean Strickler, division Division president President for PulteGroup’s West Florida operations. “We have had the wonderful opportunity to meet and spend time with Jerry and Jeaniel and their family, and there could not be six people another family more deserving of this new home. I hope they build lasting memories here and enjoy their very first Thanksgiving in their new home.”

Both Jerry and Jeaniel Whatts have served on multiple deployments, including to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. It was a deployment that brought the two together when both were at sea aboard the USS Nimitz. They have dreamed of owning a single-family home for a long time, but after Mr. Whatts’ long recovery post-service, the family faced a mountain of financial challenges and could not do so on their own.

The Whatts family was accepted into Operation Homefront’s Homes on the Homefront (HOTH) program, which provides veterans and their families the opportunity to move into a home and work directly with housing caseworkers and financial counselors to prepare for homeownership. The family will receive the deed to the home upon successful graduation from the program, within one to two years.

The four-bedroom home is located in Pulte’s Ventana community in Riverview.

“Because of partners like PulteGroup, we are able to provide life-changing impact for military families – freeing them from the stress that comes with a mortgage payment and opening many doors of opportunity for their future,” said Gracie Broll, vice Vice President of transitional and permanent Permanent Housing at Operation Homefront. “We are extremely grateful, for the second year, to be a part of the Built to Honor program that supports our veterans and military families and helps us accomplish our mission of building strong, stable, and secure military families so that they can thrive in the communities they have worked so hard to protect.” 

PulteGroup’s Built to Honor program was launched in 2013 to recognize and thank returning military personnel who have been injured during their term of service by providing mortgage-free homes to veterans and their families. Built to Honor works in partnership with nonprofit organizations to identify veteran candidates.

Since 2013, the Built to Honor program has delivered homes to over 50 veterans and their families across the country as they transition out of the military and into a new phase of their lives. This is the 3rd home PulteGroup has delivered in the Tampa Bay area since 2015. As a top homebuilder, providing a home is the best way for PulteGroup to give back to the nation’s service members.

Operation Homefront created the Homes on the Homefront program with the assistance of corporate partners to provide our nation’s veterans and military families with the foundation for long-term stability and resiliency. More than 650 military families nationwide have entered into the HOTH program, and since 2012 over 550 of these families have graduated from the program and have been deeded their home, mortgage-free, providing them with over $80 million in home equity.

Anyone looking for more information about the Homes on the Homefront program, or to apply, can go to


About Built to Honor® PulteGroup’s Built to Honor® program recognizes and thanks returning military personnel who have been injured during their term of service by providing mortgage-free homes to veterans and their families. Launched in 2013, the program has built and donated more than 50 homes across the country. Built to Honor works in partnership with nonprofit organizations to identify veteran candidates. For more information about Built to Honor, go to Follow Built to Honor on Twitter: @BuiltToHonor and

About PulteGroup, Inc.: PulteGroup, Inc. (NYSE:PHM), based in Atlanta, Georgia, is one of America’s largest homebuilding companies with operations in approximately 50 markets throughout the country. Through its brand portfolio that includes Centex, Pulte Homes, Del Webb, DiVosta Homes and John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods, the company is one of the industry’s most versatile homebuilders able to meet the needs of multiple buyer groups and respond to changing consumer demand. PulteGroup conducts extensive research to provide homebuyers with innovative solutions and consumer inspired homes and communities to make lives better. For more information about PulteGroup, Inc. and PulteGroup brands, go to;;;; and

Follow PulteGroup, Inc. on Twitter: @PulteGroupNews. 

About Operation Homefront: Founded in 2002, Operation Homefront is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to build strong, stable, and secure military families so that they can thrive – not simply struggle to get by – in the communities they have worked so hard to protect. Recognized for superior performance by leading independent charity oversight groups, 92 percent of Operation Homefront expenditures go directly to programs that support tens of thousands of military families each year. Operation Homefront provides critical financial assistance, transitional and permanent housing and family support services to prevent short-term needs from turning into chronic, long-term struggles. Thanks to the generosity of our donors and the support from thousands of volunteers, Operation Homefront proudly serves America’s military families.

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