Lawrence Jimenez was in his early 20s when he signed up for the Navy, because he wanted to go into the medical field and help care for Marines. He was told by a Marine recruiter that by becoming a corpsman in the Navy, part of his mission could be traveling with Marines.
After growing up in Oceanside, California, near Camp Pendleton, a Marine base, he was at first skeptical but found a fulfilling career. For over 20 years, and with four deployments all over the world, Lawrence served his country and fellow service members. One of those deployments was in 2005 following the Indian Ocean earthquake and the deadliest tsunami in modern history.
During his retirement process earlier this year, Lawrence, his wife, Angelus, and their three kids, Giovanni, 15, Athena, 12, and Nathaniel, 10, planned to move back to California to prepare themselves for their next stage—the transition to civilian life. With his medical background, they felt that finding a job would not be hard. The family looked forward to becoming homeowners and growing permanent roots.
Unexpectedly, the COVID-19 pandemic cancelled that move and slowed down the discharge process.
“He was preparing to retire, then COVID hit and everything was at a standstill,” Angelus said. “Movers were canceled, extension wasn’t approved, veteran’s and children’s medical appointments were cancelled… everything was a mess. We weren’t going to be able to transition successfully.”
The family made the decision to stay and move into a rental home in Florida. They depleted most of their emergency fund to move and pay bills. After seeing a fellow veteran and friend, enter a different program with Operation Homefront, Lawrence and Angelus looked into the Transitional Homes for Veterans (THV) program. The program’s major objective is to teach families how to build up savings, reduce debt, and become successful homeowners, providing them with a gateway to a strong, stable, and secure civilian life.
Lawrence was accepted into the program and they will be moving into a donated home in Florida. He is looking forward to the financial counseling that he will receive while in the program.
“This is an opportunity to save and get the budget back in place,” Lawrence said. “Maybe there are things we can tweak to make it better.”
Lawrence is currently working on a COVID-19 response team. Angelus works periodically through a remote-work program for military spouses. With all but one of the children at home, though, the majority of her time is spent managing the household. They hope to expand their own burgeoning nonprofit that helps other military families who may be struggling to afford the essentials (food/toiletries) in the surrounding areas of Florida.
The couple hopes to continue to help spread the word about Operation Homefront’s programs and the good the donors are doing by supporting them. They wanted the donors to know they appreciate their support.
“Thank you for helping us set ourselves up for success,” Angelus said.