Navy veteran surprised with news his mortgage has been paid off

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ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — For New York Navy veteran Bill Day, last Wednesday started off like any other day – until he got a Zoom call from a celebrity.

Actor Gary Sinise, who played Lt. Dan in the film “Forrest Gump,” was on the other end to share some exciting news in honor of Veterans Day.

“I get to be the messenger to tell you that you get to have your entire mortgage paid off by Veterans United. So you’re not going to have to pay for any of that!” said Sinise.

Day was overcome with shock and emotion after learning about the mortgage lender’s decision to give back.

“We wanted to get behind every American person that said ‘thank you for your service’ and make that statement mean more,” Pam Swan, vice president of military relations at Veterans United Home Loans, said. “So, we as a company said, ‘How can we do that?’ And home ownership, it’s one of the ways we could think of doing that.”

With just a simple tweet thanking veterans for their service, Veterans United will match $25 that will go towards making a difference in veterans lives. More than $2 million has been contributed to the campaign.

“We have paid off 10 veterans’ mortgages in full — complete — and surprised them today, so it’s been a lot of fun,” Swan said.

Day was one of those 10 veterans. As a single father of four, this helps take away some of his financial burden.

“I can’t even describe; I’m getting choked up. I can’t even describe how this is really helping me.”

He said his youngest son has autism and his daughter has sacrificed a lot to help her brother over the years. Day said her dream is to go to college in Texas — something that now can be a reality.

“Even though she applied, I don’t know what the answer is,” Day said. “She’s very smart, has over a 4.0, but two weeks ago, I was like there was no way I could do this. Now I can do it; she’s going.”

For Day it was proof that a simple “thank you” can make a world of difference.

“I definitely want people to know that saying ‘thank you for your service,’ whether it’s Veterans Day or not Veterans Day, they might not show it, but they appreciate it.”

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