The urgent national issue of homelessness among military veterans is all too real for U.S. Navy Petty Officer Second Class Robert Orr, who struggled to provide for his family after a medical diagnosis derailed his plans for a long career in the Navy. Just imagine the sense of surprise – and relief – Orr and his family felt during the recent revelation that they will receive a brand-new, mortgage-free home through PulteGroup’s Built to Honor program.
Then imagine the excitement they experienced when officials from PulteGroup’s Indianapolis Division immediately escorted them from the surprise reveal to a groundbreaking ceremony at the Bridle Oaks by Pulte Homes community in Whitestown, Indiana. The surprise and ceremony were held on November 8, just days before Veterans Day – an opportune time to reinforce Built to Honor’s commitment to recognizing and thanking returning military personnel who were injured during their term of service.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Built to Honor provides new, mortgage-free homes to wounded veterans who meet eligibility criteria. Once complete, this will be the second Built to Honor home awarded in Indiana by PulteGroup.
“Giving Petty Officer Second Class Orr and his family the surprise of a lifetime is one of the most unforgettable and rewarding moments our team has experienced,” said Scott Mairn, president of PulteGroup’s Indianapolis Division. “We know that having a home to call your own can be one of the most profound challenges facing wounded veterans when they come home. Given our ability to build incredible homes where people can live their dreams, we have a responsibility to give back to those who have given so much to our nation.”
To set up the surprise, PulteGroup’s Indianapolis division invited Petty Ofc. 2nd Class Orr and his family to the Bridle Oaks community under the guise of having them participate in an interview during the selection process. After the pseudo interview, Mairn and his team walked Orr out of the model home to reveal a crowd of cheering PulteGroup employees making the life-changing announcement that they were chosen. Then the Orr family was led to the site of their future home, where they were welcomed to participate in a groundbreaking ceremony with community members, Boone County Sherriff’s officers, and representatives from the Town of Whitestown in attendance.
“We are honored to extend our heartfelt welcome to Petty Officer Orr, a true American hero, and his family, as part of PulteGroup’s Built to Honor program,” said Whitestown Town Council President Eric Nichols. “His bravery and sacrifice are not just acknowledged in our community, but deeply cherished. We wish the Orr family a new chapter filled with the love, support, and kindness they deserve.”
PulteGroup is partnering on this project with Operation Homefront, a national non-profit 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.
About Petty Ofc. 2nd Class Robert Orr
After eight years in the Navy as a military police officer, Robert Orr had earned the rank of Petty Officer Second Class. He had submitted documentation to become an officer and continue what he expected to be a long career in the Navy when his world was turned upside down. While stationed at Naval Air Facility Atsugi in Japan, he was diagnosed with a service-connected autoimmune disease that makes his body unable to regulate its temperature. Any form of heat can cause him to overheat, break out in hives, or even pass out, and anxiety can exacerbate his symptoms. Orr was medically discharged in March 2023.
Orr, wife Adiame, and their two young children will relocate from Operation Homefront’s Transitional Housing program in San Diego to Whitestown. The suburb of Indianapolis appeals to the Orrs for its relatively cool climate and its proximity to Robert’s family in Indiana and Michigan. Whitestown also is near a large Ethiopian community and one of the nation’s top immune disease physicians.