Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert Alvarado is ready for his second act. After joining the Air Force in 2000 because he wanted to serve his country and honor his Vietnam veteran father, he has decided to retire.
Robert and his wife, Lucille, did their best to plan. They bought a house in Florida where they had been stationed for years and thought it would make Robert’s transition civilian life easier. But the Air Force had other plans and just two years before his retirement, the family got a change of station order to Texas. Robert and Lucille uprooted their two kids, Gabriel, 12, and Isabella, 9, said goodbye to friends and family once again, and had to sell the home they bought for life after the military.
As the time grew nearer, Robert worried about being able to make the transition smoothly. He knew he wanted to go back to school, his wife would need to find a job, and that they would have to cover all the costs of moving back to Florida. With the increase in the housing market, they would not be able to buy another home again. Plus, his dad was going to have surgery and Robert would be his caretaker.
Robert began researching their housing options and found Operation Homefront’s Transitional Homes for Community Reintegration (THCR) program on the website. He applied for a home in Wesley Chapel, Florida, a location well known to him because he had been stationed in the area. The family was overjoyed when they learned they were accepted into the program, especially the kids who really missed their friends.
“My kids were jumping everywhere,” Robert said. “They were so happy. Super happy. Like I said they grew up there. It’s tough on the kids in the military. You move all the time. You have to make friends every time you move.”
The Alvarados moved into the three-bedroom, two-bath home in March. Through THCR, the family will live in the home for two to three years. Robert will work with a financial advisor to help them fully transition into civilian life and save money to buy their own home once they leave the program. The program is made possible with a generous donation from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation.
“It’s already impacted my family so much,” Robert said. “It’s like the biggest Christmas gift my kids have ever gotten. To put a smile on my son’s and daughter’s face, it gives us hope to be able to move forward. My kids were always talking about going back to Florida and it helps us transition and to make their lives better because everything trickles down. The harder it is on us the harder it is on the kids. So, being able to move into a house like this, it helps us so we are able to help the kids more. I can get my own education but be there more for them than when I was in the military.”
Robert said he is so grateful for the donors to Operation Homefront that he hopes to someday volunteer for the organization.
“This couldn’t have been done without (the donors),” Robert said. “I can’t even express it with words. It means the world to me. Thank you very much. I’m going to try and repay them by getting my education and proving them right by taking a chance on me.”