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Celebrating A Place For Hope and Healing

By Operation Homefront

July 29, 2018

The best moments can’t be scripted. And while a lot of preparation went into the grand opening of the Operation Homefront Transitional Housing Village in San Antonio this week, it was the unexpected moments that highlighted the importance of a program that changes lives:

  • A tear running down the face of a program graduate who shared his story of healing and renewal.
  • Two happy little girls showing off their bedroom, smiling because their daddy is getting better and their mom is experiencing much less stress.
  • Donors getting to directly shake the hands of the families, the lives on which they have had a powerful impact.
  • A very large service dog and an extremely small chihuahua greeting guests who toured one of our rent-free apartments.

“In this celebration we have today, realize that there are families, faces of real people, that we collectively are helping, and we are changing lives for the better.” Operation Homefront President and CEO Brig. Gen John I. Pray (ret).

Our rent-free transitional housing village program, which started in 2008, enables the families of wounded, ill, and injured service members recovering in major military medical centers to heal together, while bridging what can be a lengthy gap between when military pay ends and veteran benefits begin, or when veterans’ disability claims are reviewed and received.  Since 2008, Operation Homefront’s Transitional Housing Village program has provided temporary homes for more than 500 military families, defraying more than $5.million in rent and utility costs.

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“I would like to thank Operation Homefront for selecting my family to be a part of the program. It has truly changed my life,” said Walter Perez, a graduate of our transitional housing village program, shared his personal experience at the grand opening. Perez was injured by an IED during a deployment to Iraq. Because of the injury, he had to relearn how to use his hands, walk, and other basic movements. He arrived with $500 in his bank account and much debt. When he left the program, he had cleared out all of his debt and saved enough money to put a down payment on his home and start his own mechanic business. He also finished his bachelor’s degree while living in one of our rent-free, utility-free apartments at our Villages.

Our transitional housing village program helps wounded, ill, and injured service members and their families to establish the financial stability to purchase their own home in the community of their choosing.  Many of these families face the financial burdens associated with traveling back and forth to be with their loved one when they are far apart, as well as the challenges of their service member’s recovery and rehabilitation.

Each participating military family is provided with a rent-free, utility-free, fully-furnished apartment; case management and customized transition plans; one-on-one financial planning; medical referrals; a support network; and assistance with employment and educational opportunities. These recovering service members and their families experience a supportive environment among peers, and most make significant financial improvements during their stay, leaving the Village debt-free or nearly so with an emergency savings plan in place.

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Many corporate representatives came to celebrate our grand opening with us. After the ribbon was cut, they got a chance to visit a wounded veteran family in their and see, first-hand, the supportive environment provided at our rent-free transitional housing villages.
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Peter Dubey and his family are current participants in the program. Peter has had an ongoing battle with cancerous tumors in his leg which caused him to be medically retired from the military earlier than planned. The family found themselves in a precarious financial situation while they were waiting for the benefits to begin. They came to the program with very little money, burned with overwhelming debt. “It was terrifying,” said Kailey, Peter’s wife. They will soon graduate from the program with all of their debt paid off and more than $30,000 in savings to help prepare them for the next phase of their life. “Now we actually feel excited and comfortable.”

Families not only receive a rent-free, furnished apartment, but they participate in a program that will help them be successful as they continue on in their lives. The program allows them to heal together as a family and move on together as a family.

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Not too long ago, Gracie and her little sister Karlie were living with their parents in a hotel and facing an uncertain future. Thanks to the Operation Homefront Transitional Housing Village program, their future is much brighter.
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“Tank,” the mighty chihuahua (above), and “Toast” his larger companion and family service dog (below), happily welcomed guests to tour their family’s rent-free apartment.

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The new San Antonio Village location replaces the previous Village on the city’s east side and joins Villages in San Diego and the Washington, DC area – each near major military medical and Veterans Affairs facilities.  Find out more about the program on our website.

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The ribbon is cut! Operation Homefront is grateful for our corporate partners who make our transitional housing program possible: Clark Foundation, Home Depot Foundation, Veterans United Home Loans, Genentech, and The May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust. We were happy to welcome representatives from several of these generous organizations to celebrate with us.

See more pictures from the event.

Watch the ribbon-cutting ceremony on our youtube page.

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