When Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Marye and his wife, Justine, learned the jarring news that Matthew would have to leave the Navy sooner than expected because of medical reasons, they were understandably nervous.
After serving for 12 years, Matthew and his family barely had time to plan where they would live after moving out of military housing in Norfolk, Virginia. And they had to secure health insurance for themselves and their two young sons, one of whom has special needs.
Facing their uncertain future was increasingly stressful until a neighbor told them about Operation Homefront’s Transitional Homes for Community Reintegration (THCR) program. Operation Homefront launched THCR in August 2018, thanks to a generous investment from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation and support from The Home Depot Foundation and others. The program’s major objective is to teach families how to become successful homeowners and provide them with a gateway to a strong, stable, and secure civilian life.
In November 2018, the Marye family moved into a newly built, rent-free home in Stephens City, Virginia, just outside Winchester, about 2½ hours from Justine’s hometown in Pennsylvania.
Two years later, Matthew and Justine are homeowners, having graduated from the program and recently purchased their own home.
“A million thank yous!” Justine said. “We make it a mission to tell everyone about Operation Homefront and their awesome donors. Everyone has been extremely helpful and caring.”
During their two years in the program, the family consistently increased savings, paid off their debt, and attended all of the financial counseling sessions. The best aspect of the program, Justine said, was “giving us a chance to get out of debt and speak with a financial advisor.”
“Seeing on average what we spend per month and things we could be doing differently really helped,” she said.
Justine joined homeschooling groups in the Winchester area while Matthew got a job as a truck driver. The family became very close with their neighbors and involved in different home school groups. Their boys, Noah, 8, and Riley, 5, participate in Lego club and frequent the library often.
After completing a homebuyer’s course in January 2020 and saving enough money for the down payment, the Marye family closed on their first home. The home is located just a short drive from the Operation Homefront THCR home in Stephens City.
Matthew and Justine said they are grateful to Operation Homefront donors.
“To me, there’s no amount of thanks in the world to thank somebody who donates like this to a family,” Matthew said.
Justine added that she appreciates the thought given to service members’ families.
“They’re not just changing our lives,” she said. “They’re changing our children’s lives.”