Abby and Luke Van Dorston onstage at the CMA Festival
Staff Sergeant Luke Van Dorston, his wife, Abby, and their 1-year-old son, Brooks, are receiving a mortgage-free house from Operation Finally Home, a non-profit that provides custom-homes for wounded, disabled veterans and their widows.
The groundbreaking ceremony is Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 2 p.m. The home will be in the Kings’ Chapel Community at 4980 Meadowbrook Blvd. It’s scheduled to be complete in spring of 2014.
Operation Finally Home partnered with LP Building Products in Nashville, local home builder Carbine & Associates, and Kix Brooks of Brooks and Dunn, host of American Country Countdown.
Brooks had the honor of letting the Van Dorstons know they’d be receiving one of these homes. He announced it at the CMA Festival’s main stage this past June.
In 2011, Ssgt. Van Dorston was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 33 years old. He joined the Air Force at 22, right after 9/11. He knew he wanted to work in a special operations career field and he did just that.
Ssgt. Van Dorston was deployed many times. But his last job was stationed in Yuma, Ariz., as an instructor for high altitude military skydiving.
Before he knew he had a tumor, Ssgt. Van Dorston had been experiencing terrible headaches and partial vision loss in his left peripheral. When he was flying, he was fine. It was when he was on the ground that he had these issues. One day when he was driving, he asked a friend to take the wheel. A few minutes later, he had a seizure in the backseat. He was airlifted into Phoenix, and in a later MRI, doctors found the tumor.
The government hasn’t confirmed whether or not the tumor was caused by Ssgt. Van Dorston’s military career, but he said after he was diagnosed he found out that three Navy Seals with similar jobs all had similar tumors to his.
The tumor stopped growing a year ago, but Ssgt. Van Dorston goes in every two months for check ups and is always on seizure medication. The biggest hurdle he has to jump is short-term memory loss and the doctors don’t recommend he works right now.
Before his diagnosis, Abby and Luke lost their firstborn child, Jack, in a stillbirth. Three months later, they found they were pregnant with Brooks. Abby was 35 weeks pregnant with him when Luke had his first seizure.
The fact that they’ll have something that’s theirs, fit to their needs, is so important to them.
“I know that a lot of people say you make a house a home. But, this is what has been important in our lives, to have a home we can call our own,” Abby said.
The Van Dorstons relocated here from Arizona three weeks ago. They are so incredibly thankful and excited for the house and the Operation Finally Home Team.
Operation Finally Home is based in Houston, Texas, but their goals are countrywide. The organization hopes to build six homes in the next two years. They’ve already built homes in Illinois, Nevada, North Carolina and Iowa. This will be the second home in Tennessee. The first went to Ssgt. Shaun Meadows. He was a part of the Air Force and toured in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was stuck by a bomb and lost both of his legs below the knees. Meadows and Van Dorston are actually friends from the military, and now they’ll live in the same state, being provided for by the same program.
Brooks takes part in Operation Finally Home simply because he supports what the armed forces do for our country.
“We have a responsibility to do more than just cheer them on when they go away to war. We have a duty to take care of them when they come home too,” Brooks said.
For the Van Dorston family, they feel well taken care of. Abby is so thankful and excited for this house and Luke is happy to take be able to take care of his family in this way.
“That relief that I don’t have to worry about providing a roof over my families head – it’s huge,” Luke said.