Navy veteran Clinton Patterson was three days into his first deployment in April 2018 when his wife Jessica confirmed she was pregnant. As he traveled to various locations in the Mediterranean and North Atlantic seas, both worried he would not be home for the birth of his first child.
He returned in November that same year, a month before Olivia was born.
“He was the first person I had met who was in the service,” Jessica said. “We really didn’t know how many deployments he would be on, and definitely didn’t know we would have our daughter in between all of that.”
Clinton enlisted in the Navy after college in 2014. He had gotten his biology degree and considered medical school but wanted something “exciting.” He was stationed in Florida when he met Jessica, who was working as a teacher there. After living in St. Louis, Missouri her whole life, Jessica had also been looking for something more adventurous and moved to Florida for this new teaching opportunity.
Clinton left for his second deployment in September 2019, to the Red Sea region, when Olivia was nine months old. He was supposed to be back sooner but the coronavirus pandemic complicated that and his time was extended. He returned in June. His time away from the family made him rethink his priorities.
“I found out that my favorite job is being a dad and I wanted to be home more,” Clinton said.
Together, Jessica and Clinton made the decision that he would leave the military. But after being in the service for six years, uncertainty about the transition to civilian life made Clinton nervous. He was worried about providing for his family, especially during a pandemic. He was at a career counselor’s office when he spotted a brochure for Operation Homefront. He took it home, mentioned it to Jessica, and she looked up their programs. When she saw that there was a home in Pensacola, Florida through the Transitional Homes for Community Integration (THCR) program, where they had both met, she filled out an application.
In October, Clinton was accepted into the program. THCR matches a family to a home for a time period of about two years during which they work toward financial stability, increase their savings, reduce debt, and raise their credit scores. The goal is to set up the family for homeownership in the community.
They are scheduled to move into their house in mid-December. Just three days later, Olivia will celebrate turning 2.
“The pandemic changed an unbelievable amount of things,” Clinton said. “It extended my deployment and it gave us nothing but insecurity in trying to get set up after I left. I thought very seriously that we were going to be in panic mode living with our parents for years.”
Because of Operation Homefront, they are able to move out of Jessica’s parent’s home after a few months, as opposed to years.
“Operation Homefront really set us up to really thrive, not just get by,” Jessica said. “And I don’t think we would have had that.”
They hope to pay off all or most of their debt while in the program and save money to be able to purchase their own home. Both want to stay in the area.
Every time he mentions the program to fellow service members, they want to hear more, Clinton said. He plans on giving back to Operation Homefront once his family can do so.
“It’s a perfect opportunity, at a time that was so uncertain for us,” he said. “Especially with COVID, it’s like a security blanket, to help go reintegrate yourself. And it’s such a cool opportunity a great thank you for your service. We are really excited. I’m looking forward to when it becomes our turn and we do what we can to share.”
Operation Homefront’s transitional housing programs provide military families with the resources so they can starts strong and stay strong when they make the transition back into civilian life.