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Home for a Hero By Taryn Sanderson F


or college sweethearts, Ronny and Clau- dia Sweger, life hasn’t always been the sweetest. Through the obstacles of life, the couple and their 8-year-old trip- let sons, Briggs, Brett and Brooks, are getting a well-deserved and unforgettable gift. The Swegers, a veteran military family, will re- ceive a custom-built, mortgage-free home for the sacrifi ces they have made during times of war. The new home will receive electric power from East Central Oklahoma Electric Cooperative. Through efforts from CastleRock Builders, New Gulf Resources and Operation Finally Home (OFH), the soldier who answered the call to serve will have a new place to call home.


A Calling to Serve


The Sweger family is celebrating a wish come true. Ronny, Claudia and their triplet sons break ground on their custom-built, mortgage-free home.


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Ronny and Claudia grew up in Oklahoma and met at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla. Even after college, Ronny knew he wanted to fulfi ll his childhood dream of join- ing the military. “I was able to serve others and the overall ex- perience was great,” Ronny said. “The war I was in was unconventionally writing history.” Ronny joined the Oklahoma National Guard in March 1993. He completed the Special Forces Assessment and Selection course in 1997 and graduated from the Special Forces Qualifi cation Course in 1998. He was stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., and later was assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group in 2001 at Fort Bragg, N.C. Ronny had multiple deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa from 2001 to 2004. As his military career progressed, he began to suffer the physical effects that accompany war. “I never realized the effects until my wife brought it up to me, but I kept doing my job,” Ronny said. “Many friends and superiors were telling me I needed to medically retire, but it took four years for me to be on the same page.” Ronny retired from the military in December 2009. He medically left the military because he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disor- der, a traumatic brain injury, loss of fi eld vision and migraines. For Ronny’s outstanding service, he has re- ceived a plethora of honors; two Purple Hearts, multiple Bronze Stars and a Special Forces Tab. Ronny was grateful, but he was still suffering from war’s brutality. “I saw a man not wanting to be a part of society after deployment; he was a different man from the one I married,” Claudia said. “He was still there though, and when we started our family is when he started to participate more in the world around him.”


The groundbreaking ceremony for the Sweger’s new home took place in Bixby, Okla. Photos by Taryn Sanderson


The birth of Ronny and Claudia’s triplet boys brought joy to his life, along with his newfound love for volunteer work. He now serves as co-founder and executive director of Foundation for Exceptional Warriors.


Serving After Retirement


“The Foundation takes warriors on adventures and these people tell us what’s on their bucket list,” Ronny said. “We focus on outdoor events but really try to make whatever they want happen.” Ronny said without the outdoors, he would be in a different place today. He has found his pur- pose and it’s important for him to share it with his fellow warriors. “There’s a lot out there to help veterans who are physically hurt, but there are not many out- lets for warriors who come back with other psy- chological issues, which is what we try to gear to for these men and women who serve our coun- try,” Ronny said. For his involvement at Exceptional Warriors,


Ronny has received the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Award, Major General Douglas O. Dollar Distinguished Service Award, President’s Lifetime Achievement Award and has been inducted into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame. The entire Sweger family is involved in the foundation. Claudia calls herself the go-to offi ce girl while the triplets like to help their dad with other responsibilities. The Swegers fi nally were able to enjoy being a family again, but on June 23, 2014, chaos hit when a fi re destroyed their home. While the Swegers had little left to call their own, family friends were kind and offered the Swegers a place to rent in Salina, Okla.


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