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Family Story

New HVAC Keeps Army Veteran Safe in Heat

By Operation Homefront

June 6, 2024

New HVAC System Keeps Army Veteran, Military Mom Safe in Heat

After her honorable discharge from the Army, Crystal Simms stayed in Hope Mills, North Carolina, which was near Fort Liberty, where she was last stationed.

Crystal bought a home in the area in 2019 and shares it with daughter Trinity, 18, and her 16-year-old niece. 

In 2020, the air conditioning began to work intermittently and then quit completely. The family endured two summers and two winters without heat or air conditioning, bundling up in winter and sweltering in summer. 

“We can always buy more blankets. But those summers without were really, really bad,” Crystal said.  

Repair services that looked at the unit all came up with the same answer — it needed to be replaced.  

Crystal, a disabled veteran and, at the time, not employed, knew the family budget could not accommodate almost $10,000 to replace the unit so she reached out to organizations for help.  

Through her research, she learned about Operation Homefront’s Critical Financial Assistance program. Thanks to the support of generous donors, Crystal was able to install a new HVAC system.  

“We appreciate the blessing that (Operation Homefront and the donors) gave us,” Crystal said. “We didn’t know which way to go and were out of options. We are so grateful for the help. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

“We didn’t know which way to go and were out of options. We are so grateful for the help.” – Crystal Simms, Army veteran

Crystal is grateful that donors are supporting veterans.  

As a teen, she aspired to join the Army, but she first enrolled in college to fulfill a promise to the foster parents who helped raise her. Unable to find her niche in college, she saw the Army as an opportunity to find discipline and see the world outside of New York City.  

She expected to serve four years, get the GI Bill, and move on. However, after becoming pregnant, Crystal realized that the military provided the benefits and steady income she needed for her family.  

During her service, she deployed five times. Her first three deployments were in Iraq, from 2003 to 2007 and the final two in Afghanistan from 2009 to 2012. She was honorably discharged in 2012 after serving 11 years.  

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