Stephen Comeau isn’t afraid of a challenge. When he felt the call to service, he chose the Marines because, in his view, they were “the hardest”.
His time with the Marines would call on all of his courage and determination. As part of the First Marine Division out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., Stephen deployed three times. One of those deployments was defined by the Battle of Fallujah, which the U.S. Military called “some of the heaviest urban combat U.S. Marines have been involved in since the Battle of Huế City in Vietnam in 1968.”
Stephen would return stateside and become an instructor of mountain warfare training in California. After three years as an instructor, he joined another battalion at Twentynine Palms, Calif. and was deployed to Afghanistan and Jordan.
Jordan would be Stephen’s fifth and last deployment.
One day while at work, Stephen was showing someone how to do knots when he could not remember what he was doing. Stephen had been involved in several blast incidents and a Humvee accident over his five deployments. It was determined that he battles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and an undiagnosed Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). In June 2013, Stephen was medically retired from the Marine Corps.
Stephen wanted to move somewhere quiet with trees and warm weather. They found what seemed like the “perfect house”, located in a quiet cul de sac in a town in Arizona, and purchased the home. Excited, Melissa and Stephen and their son moved, looking forward to healing and moving forward with life after the military. However, shortly after moving in, they realized the previous owner had remodeled and the downstairs areas had four different types of flooring. Some of the seams in the floor were a hazard for Stephen, who had gait issues as a result of his TBI.
Not long after moving in, Melissa attended a caregiver event in Washington, D.C., and in a conversation with one of our Operation Homefront representatives, learned about programs that help wounded warriors—one of which assisted with home repairs. That meeting was a turning point, as soon after Melissa returned home, Stephen fell and landed on his hip while walking in the downstairs area of their home. Melissa knew something had to be done. They could not afford to fix the floors, and they did not want to move. But Stephen needed to be safe in their home, and something had to be done. She remembered the conversation she had at the caregiver event about our home repair program. Melissa filed an application for assistance with us, which was approved.
Thanks to the generous support of our partner, Home Depot, we were able to remodel the floors in the Comeau home and make it safe for Stephen. Just as Stephen answered the call to serve his country, Home Depot and Operation Homefront answered the call when he needed help.
Melissa and Stephen now have one less worry as they begin moving forward. Melissa expressed the couple’s thoughts: “Thank you for thinking of the home life and making it safer. I appreciate that someone is out there making the home better for veterans with challenges; people want to stay in their own homes which you recognize. Our home now feels brand new, and it is our dream home.”
Melissa wrote about her experience with Operation Homefront on an Elizabeth Dole blog http://elizabethdolefoundation.org/hiddenheroes-blog/#sthash.WNxqJPRC.i8f0d3iA.dpbs
Learn more about Operation Homefront’s effort to increase support for veterans by visiting www.operationhomefront.net/answerthecall.