Your gift is matched 2X: Support our military families in need

Double My Gift
Get help now

Family Story

Navy Veteran Finds Stability at OH Apartment

By Operation Homefront

May 1, 2024

Navy Veteran Finds Stability at Operation Homefront Apartment

Petty Officer 2nd Class Austin Gilley was in a Navy transitioning assistance program class when he heard about Operation Homefront’s Transitional Housing – Apartments program in Urbana, Maryland.

“At the time I was definitely worried about how I was going to provide for my family,” Austin said. “Our lease was ending. I was very stressed at that time. Our daughter was only a few months old.” The Transitional Housing – Apartments program, launched in 2021, is the newest of Operation Homefront’s four distinct programs to assist military families transitioning to civilian life.

Through the program, honorably discharged veterans within four years of service live for one year in an apartment. The families pay no rent or utilities, and they participate in financial counseling and career education to help achieve stability and chart a path to long-term post-military success.

Austin enlisted in the Navy in 2016 because he wanted to be a part of something bigger and he hoped to pursue a career as a dental assistant. While in the Navy, he began working in IT. He deployed twice and spent 24 months to 36 months at sea, respectively. He discharged in 2023.

Austin and wife Sharon-Marie and their son, Henry, and daughter, Harriet, moved into the Apartment program in May 2023.

After he moved into the apartment, Austin landed a good IT job in Columbia, Maryland. Through the program, Austin learned budgeting tips he will use into his future.

“One of the things I appreciated most about the program was them setting us up with a financial adviser,” Austin said. “We had monthly meetings regarding our budget.”

With the extra money he was able to save for a down payment on a house. They also paid off all their revolving debt on three credit cards and raised their credit scores. The family graduated the program early when they found the perfect home in Frederick.

The four-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom house was built in the 1960s, and they bought it from the original owner, who was a widow. The house has original wood floors and wallpaper plus a big back yard.

“I have a good job. We were able to buy this beautiful house. We are now on stable footing.” – Austin Gilley, Navy veteran

Austin’s son Henry has thrived. He loves helping his parents with chores outside. After Austin bought a riding lawnmower, Henry became his assistant, helping him change the engine oil and axle oil.

“He kept saying ‘dada, tractor,’” Austin said. “He always wants to work on the tractor.”

The two now mow the lawn together and do chores such as watering the landscaping.

“The kids have never had a yard before, and now they have a quarter-acre backyard,” he said. “For the first time, Henry’s holding a garden hose and he’s just loving it.”

Without Operation Homefront, Austin does not believe he would have been able to move into the home where he and his wife hope to grow old.  “The program helped us out a ton,” he said. “I have a good job. We were able to buy this beautiful house. We are now on stable footing. I’m so grateful. Thank you.”

Get help now