During Marine veteran Marshall Henderson’s time in Iraq, he served during two of the most volatile events during the Iraq War — the country’s first democratic parliamentary election in 2005 and the Second Battle of Fallujah.
“It was the hardest and longest battle I ever fought,” Marshall said. “I was sure I wasn’t coming home to my mom. In my mind, I relive this every day and due to all that I went through, my PTSD is so severe that my pain is physical and I’ve had to be hospitalized countless times.”
He served for eight years and was honorably discharged in 2011. His PTSD and traumatic brain injury has made the transition to civilian life difficult. Marshall is unable to work. His wife, Jamie, is his full-time caregiver. The couple has a special needs son, Marshall Jr., who will be 6 in April. Jamie has been a part of Operation Homefront’s Hearts of Valor program since 2016.
Getting to his VA appointments and trying to make sure they could pay the bills was stressful for the family and owning a home seemed unattainable. Marshall and Jamie heard about Operation Homefront’s Homes on the Homefront (HOTH) program while talking to another veteran at church. When a house became available in Kathleen, Georgia, they applied and were accepted.
In March, the family moved into the 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom house, donated to Operation Homefront by JPMorgan Chase. As part of HOTH, Marshall will receive customized financial counseling to build savings, reduce debt and improve credit and will also learn home ownership skills. Upon graduation from the program, Operation Homefront deeds the home to the family, mortgage-free.
Marshall and Jamie can trace family lineage in Georgia for more than 100 years. Being close to friends and family, plus the fact Marshall’s VA hospital is closer, allows them to be near a support system. Marshall Jr. talked about planting a lemon tree as soon as he learned they got accepted into the program. He wants to make his own lemonade. Growing tomatoes is also on Marshall Jr.’s list.
“We are especially enthusiastic about the size of the property,” Marshall said. “Since I became a civilian, I’ve been gardening as a form of therapy and now garden with my wife and son. Having nearly three acres of land that I can call my own, the possibilities are endless! For years we have been looking forward to having a home that we can make very energy efficient.
“Having security and a permanent home that we can call our own is my dream come true! After all that my wife and caregiver, Jamie, has given up to be there for me, it gives me pride that she will have a life she deserves.”