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Family Story

Veteran and Family Eager to Establish Home Base

By Operation Homefront

February 7, 2024

Veteran and Family Eager to Establish Home Base in Florida 

For career soldier Mike Christensen, 2024 marks a year of fresh starts as he and his family transition to civilian life after 22 years in the Army.  

He and his wife, Lindsay, and their three children began writing their next chapters from a new home – their forever home – in January. The home in Punta Gorda, Florida, was made possible through the generosity of Meritage Homes in partnership with Operation Homefront and its Permanent Homes for Veterans (PHV) program. 

Mike enlisted in the military at age 17, remembering the feeling he had as he and fellow students in his U.S. history class in Iowa watched on television as the horror of the 9/11 attacks on the United States unfolded. 

“I knew immediately that was my cue” to join the military, he said, adding that his father also served in the Army. In December 2001 – as soon as he was eligible – Mike enlisted. 

A sergeant first class, Mike wrapped up his medical retirement after two decades of working in ground reconnaissance. During his service, he endured a battle with cancer and returned to duty after emergency surgery to remove the aggressive tumor. He and his family recently celebrated his ninth anniversary of being cancer free.  

He earned seven Army Commendation Medals and a Joint Service Achievement Award during his two decades of service. He served yearlong deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq early in his career and recently was deployed for nine months to Poland and Finland.  

Through all the moves and deployments, Mike and Lindsay kept the focus on their children, Lillian, 16; Madalyn, 13; and Lincoln, 8. They made sure one or both parents are present for their children’s awards ceremonies, soccer practices, games, and other events, even though it meant sacrificing family vacations and savings accounts.  

Family dinner has always been a priority. When Mike worked late, Lindsay and the kids waited. While he was deployed to Europe, they chatted by video over breakfast.  

In 2023, as Mike’s medical retirement neared finalization, he and Lindsay were unsure how they would build a future in the civilian world. But after living in six states – and many more houses – during their military life, they are excited to call Florida home. 

“We can’t say enough about how grateful we are for Operation Homefront and its donors for (the PHV) program. We are looking forward to starting our lives.” – Michael Christensen, Army veteran

“Lindsay followed me around for 18 years, so I told her wherever she wanted to go afterward, we would go,” said Mike, adding that his aunt, uncle, and cousin – all veterans – live in Florida. “We’ve dreamed about a forever home for 19 years, and we didn’t know how we would make it happen because of the housing market and interest rates.” 

An online search led the family to Operation Homefront’s PHV program and a newly built home available in Punta Gorda, Florida. 

Being selected for the home in a growing new community has given the Christensen family hope for a solid foundation in the civilian world.  

“This is life-changing for us,” Mike said.  

Being in the PHV program will allow the family to become financially stable, a goal that has been distant as Lindsay set aside her career in medical coding and billing in favor of being a full-time mom. 

Through the program, qualifying post-9/11 veterans and their families live rent-free in an Operation Homefront home for two years while working with caseworkers and financial counselors to reduce debt, increase savings, learn budgeting, and prepare for home ownership. Upon completion of the program, the veteran receives the deed to the home, mortgage-free.  

More than 680 veteran families have completed the PHV program and received deeds to homes since the PHV program began in 2012. The home equity is valued at over $103 million. 

As Mike begins a new job as an inspector on Florida highway projects, the Christensens look forward to building their future. 

“We can’t say enough about how grateful we are for Operation Homefront and its donors for this program,” Mike said. “We love the house and the neighborhood. We are looking forward to starting our lives.” 

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