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Local veteran and his family given new home | PHOTOS

The Gwinnett County Honor Guard honors Sgt. Perry Haley and his family at the reveal and dedication of their newly-built, mortgage-free Pulte home in Sugar Hill on Wednesday. (Photo: Chris Roughgarden)

The Gwinnett County Honor Guard honors Sgt. Perry Haley and his family at the reveal and dedication of their newly-built, mortgage-free Pulte home in Sugar Hill on Wednesday. (Photo: Chris Roughgarden)

SUGAR HILL – The skies were mostly cloudy and it even tried to rain, but nothing could dampen the spirits Wednesday morning as a United States Army veteran and his family received a wonderful gift.

In conjunction with non-profit partner Operation Finally Home as part of the national “Built To Honor” program, PulteGroup presented a newly-built, mortgage-free home to Sgt. Perry Haley and his family in the Barrington Estates subdivision in Sugar Hill.

The 2,600-square-foot, two-story home, which comes fully decorated, was officially handed over to the Haley family on Wednesday after their selection in February on a live telecast of “CNN Newsroom.”

With a band playing and a Gwinnett County Police color guard on hand along with representatives from Operation Finally Home, PulteGroup, the city of Sugar Hill and numerous trade partners and local vendors, the Haleys rolled up in a black limousine and were given the keys to their new home after a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“Every dedication that we go to with the ‘Built To Honor’ program is so special,” Operation Finally Home vice president of marketing Molly Halliday said. “To watch each family as they walk into that home and see their faces is amazing. We’re honored to be able to help Perry Haley and his family move on and transition from their previous life to a new life.”

Haley joined the U.S. Army in 2000 after graduating from high school and spent 13 years of his military career stationed at several bases around the country, including Fort Stewart in southeast Georgia.

While serving in Iraq and Korea, he was injured and has also dealt with other health issues.

Haley has received numerous commendations, including the Army Achievement Medal, Army Superior Unit Award and Good Conduct Medal.

But the gift Haley and his family received on Wednesday ranks at the top of the list when it comes to awards and honors.

Along with his wife, Autumn, and four of their five children – daughters Georgia, Eva and Hannah along with son Justin – Haley walked into their new home and a dream was finally realized.

“This means the world to us,” Haley said. “I can’t thank these organizations enough who were involved in this project. We were moving from rental to rental and now we’re blessed with this awesome opportunity. That was a great welcome for us today and we can’t wait to join this neighborhood.

“We’ve lived on military bases and there were always kids around. But the last few places we’ve lived, that hasn’t been the case. And we’re all excited, because we’ve heard such good things about the schools and look forward to that this fall.”

PulteGroup will build 20 homes in 2014 as part of the Built To Honor program, which was launched last year as a nationwide initiative to assist war veterans in their return home.

“It is important for PulteGroup to give back at what we do best and that’s build homes,” PulteGroup Georgia Division President Casey Hill said. “We’re committed to and eternally grateful to the men and women in our military who serve and protect. It’s a great way for our employees to rally around a great cause and we’re extremely excited about it.”

Sugar Hill mayor pro tem Marc Cohen, who was present for the dedication ceremony, said the Haleys will find the neighborhood and community a great place to call home.

“The city of Sugar Hill is a family community and family is very important to us,” Cohen said. “So to have the Haleys join our community is just wonderful. We want to recognize and honor family, recreation and service and we look forward to the Haleys being yet another neighbor in our community.”