Marine Veteran Finds Pride in Support of Operation Homefront, Pillsbury
After a couple of false starts after high school, Riley Oakes found his way in the military and loved his chosen career path. When he developed a rare skin disease that forced him to leave the Marine Corps, the support of Operation Homefront and Pillsbury only increased his pride in serving.
Riley, his wife, Kortney, and toddler Austin now live rent-free in a house in Fort Worth, Texas, and receive financial counseling to help them start strong in their post-military lives.
“To know that for the next two years, this organization has allowed us to acquire this safety net and to really move forward with our lives is awesome and means the world to us,” he said.
“I never dreamed I would qualify for a program like this.” – Riley Oakes, Marine veteran
Riley tried college and civilian work after high school in Abilene, Texas, before embarking on a lifelong dream of becoming a Marine. He was a lance corporal, a radio operator, a husband, and the father of a young child when his medical condition changed all his plans.
His skin disorder and the anxiety brought on by his uncertain situation caused Riley to stay up until the wee hours of the morning. On one of those sleepless nights, he searched the internet for help for military veterans and found Operation Homefront. He immediately filled out an application for the Transitional Homes for Veterans (THV) program.
Operation Homefront responded quickly, and soon he got the news that he and his family would live in the Fort Worth house.
“My legs turned to noodles,” Riley said. “We were so relieved. It took a world of pressure off our shoulders. It’s still too good to be true. We’re more than thankful. We were on a path to success to begin with—failure is not an option—but this broadens our path and will enable us to buy a home.”
Pillsbury has sponsored three homes in the neighborhood, and Riley’s family will host other Operation Homefront families for an April 30 celebration. THV families receive temporary rent-free housing, financial education, and support services. They gain knowledge about the home-buying process, work to improve credit scores, pay off debt, accumulate savings for emergencies, and establish ties to the communities they reside in.
Riley’s unplanned departure from the military, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, caused upheaval for the family. They expected to leave the military in a matter of months but ended up spending more than two years in limbo. All the while, military officials continued to tell him his situation would be resolved in three weeks.
When the call finally came, he had 10 days to leave his San Diego station with his pregnant wife, their son, now almost 2, a cat, and a dog.
Riley is now completing accounting studies at Tarrant County College, and Kortney works in payroll. They have family in nearby Crowley, and his parents in Abilene are only a few hours away.
The Oakes family appreciates what Pillsbury and Operation Homefront have done for them and for so many other military families.
“When you join the military, it’s a humbling thing,” Riley said. “When you get out and see all of these people who really care and know that their main focus is to help veterans, it’s awesome. It makes me proud that I served and that these people have our backs.”