Chenita Hickman’s life changed drastically on May 14, 2019. While sitting in a car at an intersection, a drunk driver slammed into her vehicle.
A back injury and back spasms triggered a medical evaluation board. After 20 years in the military, Chenita knew her time was coming to an end. She first joined the U.S. Army Reserve in 1999, with several back-to-back Active Guard Reserve enlistments.
A single mom with a teenage daughter, Chenita knew she needed to make plans fast. Chenita learned about Operation Homefront’s Transitional Housing Village program. The program provides rent-free, fully furnished apartments for service members who are transitioning out of the military and their families.
She inquired about space in the Gaithersburg, Maryland, Village since it was closer to Fort Dix where she was stationed, and her family in Rhode Island. They had a waiting list so she talked to the Operation Homefront staff in San Antonio, Texas and was grateful that they were able to accept her into the program. Chenita had visited Texas once, briefly but she knew that living in the Village would provide her and her daughter some stability, and the opportunity was too important to pass up.
“I always do the unexpected,” she said, about leaving the East Coast. She and her daughter, Harmony, moved into the Texas Village on Jan. 13, 2020. She was medically retired with a 100 percent disability rating in February.
At the Village, Chenita worked with financial counselors and caseworkers to help build up savings, reduce debt and create a customized plan for their move back to civilian life. She graduated from the program after eight months and was able to pay off four credit cards and save enough money to put a down payment on a house in the San Antonio area, realizing her dream of becoming a homeowner. She is working at Fort Sam Houston as a human resources assistant. Her daughter, Harmony, has also settled into their new home.
Chenita thanked the donors for making it all possible.
“I could not have made it this far without them,” she said. “They are helping so many people whether they know it or not. I just can’t say thank you enough. You really are a blessing.”
Operation Homefront’s transitional housing programs provide military families with the resources they need so they can start strong and stay strong when they make the transition back into civilian life.