Gold Star family receives mortgage-free home

Neighbors, community leaders gather to celebrate a new sort of homecoming

Madeline Gray—
Tanya Palmer

RALEIGH — During a beautifully sunny April morning, the front yard of the Palmer family’s future home began to fill with buzzing onlookers, waiting to catch a glimpse of the pure joy that was about to happen. Some notable members of the crowd were Larry Hall, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and Nancy McFarlane, the mayor of Raleigh. They were there to see Tanya Palmer, along with children Brenden and Rebecca, and grandson Zackery, arrive at their future home in North Raleigh. The home is a gift from SunTrust Banks recognizing their sacrifice as a Gold Star Family. Gold Star Families are those who lost a family member military combat. When asked if they had peeked at the house beforehand, Tanya Palmer admitted, “Kind of. We stalked it on Google!” This was the eighth home given by SunTrust through the Military Warrior Support Foundation, an organization that helps provide assistance to wounded veterans and Gold Star Families. While SunTrust has donated houses in Fayetteville, as well in Virginia, Georgia and South Carolina, this will be the first house located in the Triangle area. This is also the first home SunTrust Banks has provided for a Gold Star family.Tanya Palmer married Marine Cpl. Charles Palmer in January 2006 after he was already in the Marine Corps. In 1995 he was stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune located in Jacksonville, N.C., assigned to the 8th Communication Battalion. He re-enlisted in 2006 and served in Iraq.However, in 2007 Palmer and another Marine were killed while in Al Anbar province in Iraq when a roadside bomb exploded near their Humvee. Charles Palmer was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. “Just to be able to welcome them into our community along with our incredible partners like SunTrust Banks, and to see all of their neighbors coming out to greet them really shows how Raleigh is as a community,” said Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane. The Palmer family is moving to Raleigh from Hubert, N.C., and Tanya Palmer will pursue a career in real estate.”I feel like it was a really good decision to move back here because I am getting back into work after 10 years and I think being here will allow me to be more successful,” she said. Katie Slattery, a financial and family mentor for Military Warriors Support Foundation, helped coordinate the Palmers’ move, but her work with them doesn’t end when they move in. In addition to a home the program provides ongoing family and financial mentoring.”I will work with Tanya for the next three years on a monthly basis and help her feel really settled into the home,” said Slattery.Palmer and her family also had some goodies waiting for them when they moved in: a gift basket filled with donations from area retailers including Chick-fil-A, Dunkin Donuts, Home Depot, LaVida Massage, Food Lion and the Raleigh Mortgage Bankers Association was waiting for them.As the family posed with their large, blue key before entering their new home, a neighbor shouted out, “Welcome to the neighborhood!” bringing laughter from the crowd.Military Warriors Support Foundation has facilitated more than 700 homes to wounded veterans or Gold Star Families since it was founded in 2007. Its mission is to help ease the transition for injured veterans and their families during a time of recovery and crisis. Beyond homes, the organization also helps with career counseling, transportation and recreational activities for hundreds of veterans each year.