PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — Wednesday was an emotional day for a Gold Star family who received a new home in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
An untimely death can shake a family to its core, but a community came together to literally help build a stronger foundation for a grieving military mom.
Lisa Heintz and her two sons, Dierk and Dominik, received the keys to their new house along with a payment-free, 25-year forgivable mortgage.
Heintz lost her son Air Force Senior Airman Joshua Allen Reinwasser after he served the military and was deployed to Guam and Qatar.
Reinwasser served as a loader maintainer for a B-1 bomber when he was exposed to chemicals that caused lesions in his lungs and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He took his own life in 2018.
Heintz said Joshua was always destined for the military. It was something others saw in him as well.
"When he was in second grade, and I remember his teacher wrote one of those letters that said, 'Do not open until graduation,' and when we opened it, it said, 'You will grow up to be a soldier,'" Heintz recalled.
During Wednesday's ceremony, the Port St. Lucie Police Department conducted a Dignified Transfer of Remains ceremony for Reinwasser and his surviving family. One of Heintz's other sons carried Joshua's remains to the family car.
As Heintz was moving from her current townhome to her new house, she had mixed emotions.
"A lot of great memories ... This is the last home Joshua ever knew. I know he's always with me, but there is that little bit of sadness, the last home he ever walked through the front door of was this home," Heintz said.
A flagpole with two flags waving, an Air Force flag and the American flag, was donated by Port St. Lucie Councilman David Pickett.
The home was made possible through the City of Port St. Lucie and Synergy Homes.
The city donated a lot for the home in the Woodland Trails neighborhood. Synergy Homes then volunteered to build the 1,800-square-foot home.
Realtor Bobby Bigone spearheaded the effort, getting city leaders and Synergy Homes to collaborate on the project.
"May (Joshua) rest in peace. He protected us. He paid the ultimate price, and this is a way of giving back," Bigone said.
All of the new furnishings inside the home were donated by the Believe With Me organization based in North Palm Beach.
Thirteen applications for the home were accepted in December and vetted by St. Lucie County's Veteran Services Division in partnership with the city.
The city said Heintz and her family were selected after the field was narrowed to two Gold Star families. A random drawing was held and Heintz was chosen.
"I know when I'm at the new home, when I walk in that front door, he's hugging me ... because that home was built and donated to us because of him," Heintz said.
Click here to learn more about the Homes for PSL's Heroes program.
This story was originally published by Jon Shainman and Scott Sutton at WPTV.