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Family Story

Water Mitigation Makes Home Safer for Veteran

By Operation Homefront

June 13, 2024

Water Mitigation Makes Home Safer for Air Force Veteran  

Sarah Serrano had always wanted to join the military but had been nervous about making through basic training. After the terrorist attacks in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001, Sarah continued her internal debate and in 2008 decided to enlist in the Air Force.  

“I was not being fulfilled in the civilian world, felt like I had no purpose,” she said. “I wanted to know what it felt like to salute during the Pledge of Allegiance.”  

She deployed to Turkey in 2010 and Iraq in 2011. Sarah had planned on making the Air Force a career, and in particular wanted to be part of a K9 unit. But after Iraq she realized she was not herself.  

Sarah would be diagnosed with PTSD, a traumatic brain injury and hearing loss related to injuries sustained in Iraq. She was medically retired as staff sergeant in 2016 after serving over seven years.  

“My mental health had taken a big turn for the worse and Operation Homefront stepped in, and I was not prepared for all the help we received. I’m grateful.” – Sarah Serrano, Air Force veteran

Sarah had been stationed at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, and when she medically retired, she and her wife, Hannah, decided to stay in the area. She bought a house in Universal City, a suburb. Within two weeks of moving in, Sarah noticed issues with water and plumbing.  

The plumbing started to back up. Water was also seeping up through the floor in the freshly renovated house.  

They were told the plumbing was a known issue and one of the reasons the house was sold.  

“I wish I had talked to my neighbors before buying the house because they knew about it,” she said.  

Sarah looked into legal methods to get it resolved but they were time consuming and expensive. When they got estimates for repairs, they were upwards of $40,000 to $60,000.  

The insurance company was going to cover some of the cost for the water mitigation and a company was sent out to dry the floors and try to fix the standing water problem. The insurance company stopped communicating with Sarah, the plumber and the company that had already set up multiple fans and dehumidifiers running at about $150 per day per unit. The company started demanding the money because the insurance company was not communicating. 

Sarah and Hannah were not sure where to turn. During a retreat for wounded warriors, Sarah was told about Operation Homefront’s Critical Financial Assistance (CFA) program.  

Thanks to the generous donations of the Home Depot Foundation, Sarah was able to fund more than $4,300 for water mitigation repair on the floor. She is appreciative of the donors to the program because she did not know where else to turn.  

“My mental health had taken a big turn for the worse and Operation Homefront stepped in. I’m grateful. I don’t know if we’d be in this house without it.”  

The plumbing is working for now as well. 

“I would tell the donors that the help that’s given takes you off the ledge,” she said. “When I got the assistance those racing thoughts that were pretty ugly started going away because I felt like there was hope. Someone was there to help.” 

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