Military veterans, business leaders, schoolchildren and other members of the Victoria community stood under a cloudless sky Thursday afternoon to commemorate the construction of a new home in the Homestead Acres subdivision.

Retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Bradley Gruetzner received the new home as part of the 100 Homes Challenge, a partnership between Bass Pro Shops and the Houston-based nonprofit Helping a Hero.

More than 15 years ago, Gruetzner survived a Humvee explosion while serving in Irag. Gruetzner had his right hand amputated and lost three of his crew members as the result of the attack.

Following some of his own struggles with post traumatic stress disorder, Greutzner joined a group for veterans in Victoria known as Warrior’s Weekend. Gruetzner’s work with local veterans inspired retired Staff Sgt. Shilo Harris to nominate him for the 100 Homes Challenge.

“I am at a loss for words,” Greutzner said after a groundbreaking ceremony for his new house. “This opportunity will give me a new start and a new space for me to help veterans.”

Meredith Iler, the founder of Helping a Hero’s Home program, said the initiative to build homes for veterans is a way to express gratitude for the sacrifices they made while serving in the military.

“I am inspired by (Bass Pro Shops founder) Johnny Morris, who often took time to honor his company’s veterans,” Iler said.

Several general managers of Bass Pro Shops stores in Texas attended Thursday’s ceremony. One of them, League City store manager Chad Clow, said the 100 Homes Challenge is consistent with the values the company has for U.S. military veterans.

“For me it’s all about celebrating freedom and the bonds that have inspired us to not forget about what our loved ones did to keep us free today,” Clow said.

Gruetzner’s 3,000 square-feet home will be built by Victoria-based Kimberlite Homes. Co-founders Bulmaro Martinez and Brian H. Ferguson said the three-bedroom, two-bath home should be completed in 10 to 12 months, as the project is still in the design phase and builders will make sure they have the correct specifications for a wheelchair-accessible home.

“As an Iraq veteran, it means a lot to me to have the opportunity to honor Brad for his sacrifices,” Martinez said.

“I’m honored to give back and feel fortunate to do it in Victoria, a city that backs veterans often,” Ferguson said.”

Surrounded by his friends from across Texas, Gruetzner said he was thankful for everyone who made this opportunity possible for him.

“I am overflowing with gratitude and appreciation,” Gruetzner said.