Military family gets place to call home

CDT photo

Any serviceman or woman, past or present, will talk of how good it feels to come home after a tour of duty.

Nicholas Snook, an Army sergeant recently discharged from active duty, and his family now have a home of their own to go to. The Snooks were presented with a house Saturday during a ceremony at Pegula Ice Arena. After moving every couple of years in the service, Snook said a permanent home is welcomed.

“The main thing is stability,” he said. “It’s a place to call home.”

Snook, of Dover, served as a military policeman and deployed to the Kandahar province of Afghanistan in 2010. He was awarded the Purple Heart during that tour. The home was presented to the family by Operation Homefront, a nonprofit organization that provides services to veterans, including awarding homes to selected veterans, said Pete Stinson, Operation Homefront’s executive director for Pennsylvania. The group has provided around 10 homes to veterans in Pennsylvania in the last two years, he said.

The presentation was a part of the festivities during Military Appreciation Day at Penn State. Current servicemen and women, veterans and their families received free tickets to the game between Penn State and Temple. A pregame tailgate was held inside the arena, where veterans were provided with a free meal.

This marks the second year Military Appreciation Day was held at the university. It drew around 5,000 servicepeople this year, event coordinator Michael del Rosario said, up from 2,200 last year.

Although it was a home game for the Nittany Lions, the visiting team was also represented.

Justin Cassidy, of Reading, was at appreciation day with his wife and three children and was decked out in Owls gear. He graduated from Temple in 2003 and was an ROTC cadet there. Now a captain in the National Guard, Cassidy deployed to Iraq in 2008.

Some guests stood on four legs.

Daniel Smith, originally of Lubbock, Texas, had his military service dog, Jefferson Davis, with him. Smith, an Army veteran, deployed to Iraq in 2005. He was wounded in an IED attack and suffered a traumatic brain injury, which caused him to experience seizures. The dog can sense a seizure coming, Smith said. He also comforts Smith if he experiences flashbacks or other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The next Military Appreciation Day is scheduled for Oct. 3 next season, del Rosario said, when Penn State plays Army.