Home Will Fulfill Army Veteran’s Dream of Better Life for Children
Young Carlos Rodriguez-Velazquez had a fascination with the military growing up in a meager, single-parent home in Puerto Rico. That dream came to fruition when he enlisted in the Army at age 19.
Now, thanks to Operation Homefront and the generosity of Meritage Homes, he is on track to fulfill another big dream – home ownership. If the family completes the Permanent Homes for Veterans (PHV) program, they will receive a newly built house in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, mortgage-free.
“It feels like a dream, but it’s real,” Carlos said. “We have a place to call home, a place for our kids to call home. We will have achieved the dream of home ownership.”
Families accepted into the program work with caseworkers and financial counselors to learn and plan for home ownership. Upon completion, which usually takes one to two years, the family will receive the deed to the 1,800-plus-square-foot, four-bedroom home.
Carlos and his wife, Zayloni, cried tears of joy when leaders from Operation Homefront and Meritage Homes told them they were chosen for the house under construction in suburban Nashville.
Zayloni has already fallen in love with Mount Juliet, a suburb of Nashville about 65 miles southeast of Clarksville, where they now live.
“It means so much that we will actually have a place to call our own,” Zayloni said. “We can get our lives back on track financially and be able to do things that we’ve never really been able to do before because of paying a lot in rent.”
Carlos joined the military in 2015 “to be part of something, to show who I am and what I am capable of.”
While stationed at Fort Campbell on the Kentucky-Tennessee border, he met Zayloni and they married in 2017.
After three years as a field artillery specialist, which included a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan in 2016-17, Carlos, a corporal, was medically retired and the VA rated him unemployable.
“When I first got out, I was lost,” he said. “I didn’t want to believe I was done. It took two or three years to let that go.”
“We will have achieved the dream of home ownership.” – Carlos Rodriguez-Velazquez, Army veteran
Carlos had thrived with the routine and discipline of the military. Without it, he struggled to find and keep a job. He hopes to find employment with an organization that will understand and work with the severe PTSD he lives with.
Despite difficulties, Carlos had good reasons to keep striving: Zayloni and their three children, Allana, age 9; Sofia, 3; and Delancey, 6 months.
“Everything I do is for them,” he said. “I want them to experience everything that I wasn’t able to experience as a child.”
Zayloni works as a merchandiser for Coca-Cola and would like to continue in that position if the family moves to Mount Juliet.
Meritage Homes is donating three mortgage-free homes to military families this year as part of Operation Homefront’s PHV program. Through this program, military families complete requirements and receive deeds to houses.
Operation Homefront is a national nonprofit celebrating its 20th year. Its mission is to build strong, stable, and secure military families so they can thrive—not simply struggle to get by—in the communities that they’ve worked so hard to protect.
“Thank you with all of my heart,” Carlos said to Operation Homefront donors and to Meritage Homes. “You have literally made my dream come true.”