As we near the end of our 11 stories series, we meet a wounded warrior who focused on gaining stability for himself and his family. That quest took him all over the world and eventually back home to Wisconsin.
Army Specialist Ben Manthe was born and raised in Spencer, Wis. He always wanted to do something bigger with his life. He wanted to make a difference. Ben went to college right after high school and got a degree. He was working in his degree field, but was not really enjoying what he was doing. He wanted to do something that he felt mattered.
He and his wife Kristal also had two children to provide for, so they were looking for more stability in pay and benefits. One evening the couple was watching television when an Army commercial came on. Ben and Kristal each looked at each other and the discussion began. Shortly after that evening in 2010, Ben enlisted in the Army.
Ben was stationed at Ft. Polk, La. and deployed to Afghanistan. While deployed, he suffered multiple injuries that would lead to his medical retirement. The injuries would also land him in San Antonio, Texas for treatment and recovery. He and Kristal have made the best of their time in the city, but missed being close to friends and family. Kristal was from a small town called Seymour, Wis., about two hours away from Ben’s hometown.
Early in 2013, the family heard about Operation Homefront’s Homes on the Homefront program and immediately applied for a mortgage-free home in Kenosha, Wis. A few months later, the couple received word that they would be awarded the home, enabling them to move closer to family and their support system as Ben made his transition from the military.
“We weren’t having the most secure time financially, and Ben’s joining the Army became a great help to us,” said Kristal. “It was a stable life and stability is such an important thing. When that stability is taken from you, it can be very tough. “
“I am still pinching myself to wake up from this dream,” said Ben. “I am at a loss for words. This is going to help us so much to put down roots and recreate that stability for our family. We are very excited to actually have a place to call home.”
To date, our Homes on the Homefront program has matched more than 200 homes with very deserving veteran families. And there are nearly 100 more homes in process. We are grateful to have partners like Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and recently, Meritage Homes, who join us in awarding mortgage-free homes to veterans.
Join in the conversation with us as we celebrate those veterans among us, by sharing stories of your own. Through Facebook or Twitter, please use the hashtag #11days11stories to share your own inspirational story of a veteran in your life.