Operation Homefront’s Veteran Housing Assistance Provides Forever Home to Growing Family
As Army veteran Robert Reukauf and his wife, Avery, kicked off 2023, their life looked vastly different than it had 18 months earlier when they moved to Katy, Texas.
In October 2022, their family grew from three to five with the birth of twins, a boy and girl named Arie and Avia. Then, in February 2023, as their older son, Wilder, was approaching his sixth birthday, the family moved a home they purchased in an established neighborhood in Katy.
The couple credit Operation Homefront’s Transitional Homes for Veterans (THV) program for helping them realize their dream of owning a home. The program, designed as a gateway to stability for veterans transitioning to civilian life, provides temporary rent-free housing, financial education, and support services while families work toward self-sufficiency.
“We thought it would be seven or more years before we could own a home,” said Robert, who served four years before being medically retired after injuring both shoulders in a training accident.
The Reukaufs had set aside the dream of owning a home after filing for bankruptcy in 2020. They entered the THV program a year later, in summer of 2021, eager to boost credit scores and reduce debt that had mounted while he served and when they moved to Houston, near Avery’s family, from their last duty station in Washington.
The family budget strained with Robert’s unplanned separation from the military and a two-month gap in pay between his last military pay and his first disability check. His separation coincided with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he struggled to find a job.
“We would have never thought (purchasing a home) would be possible for us,” said Avery, also an Army veteran. “Our life from where we were at the beginning of the program versus now speaks volumes about how much thought has been put into cultivating these programs.”
Robert envisioned a military career when he enlisted to support his family.
“Before I joined the military, my wife got pregnant. I was bending rebar at the time, and I wanted to do something as a career, so I joined the Army,” he said.
Robert said neither he nor Avery learned about budgeting or homeownership growing up, and the program taught them about both. While living in the transitional housing for veterans house, the Reukaufs built their savings by about $20,000 and reduced debt by about $12,000. Each of their credit scores increased by more than 50 points.
“When we started the program, we had a lifestyle that wasn’t the most productive pertaining to saving money,” Robert said. “We’re much more frugal now, and that’s a great thing.”
“Our life from where we were at the beginning of the program versus now speaks volumes about how much thought has been put into cultivating these programs.” – Avery Reukauf, Army veteran and military spouse
Avery said they are confident as homeowners because the THV program made them responsible for routine maintenance and setting up utilities while offering a support system when they had questions.
At their caseworker’s urging, the couple became more involved in the community. Now, instead of having only a few friends to call on, they have developed a support network of at least two dozen families through their church and home-school programs.
As they settled into their new home, they planned a backyard birthday bash for Wilder. Robert planned to attach a swing set, slide, and zip line to an existing clubhouse, and Avery envisioned a flower-filled garden that could double as a learning laboratory as she home-schools her children.
“This has been an amazing experience,” Avery said. “Thank you for choosing us and believing in us. We appreciate Operation Homefront and its donors.”
Operation Homefront housing caseworker Candace Jules supported the Reukaufs throughout their time in the THV program, and she applauds their work.
“The Reukauf family has a bright and beautiful future ahead,” she said. “I am very proud of all they have accomplished during their transition.”