Posts Tagged ‘11days11stories’

nathan-11-days-11-stories-400pixHe had planned to be a Marine for 20 years, and then retire. His wife was beside him all the way and supported his goal. And all family decisions, including financial ones, were based on being a military family for the next 20 years.

But then everything changed.

He deployed to Afghanistan, was injured, and then told that he would be discharged. As the shock set in, the couple had no idea where they would live, when VA benefits would start, or how they would pay their bills. They had no “plan B” for what they would do if 20 years ended early.

Their story is more common than one might think. And it’s the reason why Operation Homefront established our transitional housing program, and set up rent-free Operation Homefront Villages for families like this one. Operation Homefront Villages are currently operated in three locations across the country:

  • San Diego, CA – serves those primarily at Balboa Hospital and Camp Pendleton
  • Gaithersburg, MD – serves those primarily at Walter Reed Military Medical Center at NSA Bethesda
  • San Antonio, TX – serves those primarily at San Antonio Military Medical Center and Audie Murphy VA Hospital

The Operation Homefront Villages, which consist of approximately around 15 apartments within a complex, allow wounded, ill, and injured service members and their families to live rent-free while they transition from military to civilian life. The apartments are fully furnished, with utility services, internet access, cable TV, telephone service, and all of the comforts of home provided. And these families have support from other military families who are residents for the same reason. They can connect and encourage each other while they all undergo a similar transition to a new life. Our mission at Operation Homefront is to build strong, stable, and secure military families and the Operation Homefront Villages help bridge the gap at an important turning point in these families’ lives.

When a service member becomes a resident at one of our villages, Operation Homefront counselors set up a plan for the family to follow. They attend support groups, and workshops that help them review their benefits or write their resumes. Residents also receive one-on-one financial counseling to reduce debt and build savings. For many of the residents, they need time to adjust to the idea of life outside the military. They need to build up their savings and decide where they really want to live. They also need time to decide on a career path and sometimes make plans to attend school. The Operation Homefront Villages give them the freedom and space to do that.

“Operation Homefront counselors meet with each military family every 30 days to review where they are in the transition process and determine their ability to live on their own,” said Gracie Broll, senior director of transitional housing. “Once they have become self-sufficient, our counselors help them find suitable housing in the area they intend to live on a permanent basis.”

“Upon completion of the program, veterans and their families should have VA benefits in place, debt significantly reduced, and emergency savings in place,” added Broll.

This year alone, Operation Homefront Villages have provided 504 months of rent-free, fully furnished housing to 87 military families who, combined, are raising 155 military kids.

“A little over a year ago my kids and I arrived at one of the Operation Homefront Villages. The thing about Operation Homefront… I was never just a number. A name. A statistic. A random check or donation. (They) made an investment in me. In my life. In my future. On a deeply personal level,” said Nathan, a resident at our Village in Maryland.

Vets-Day_SquareIn our upcoming blog series, “11 days. 11 stories,” we’ll share with you the stories of some of our families and their journey through service, injury, recovery and transition. You will hear about how supporters like you have changed lives. The series begins Wednesday, Nov. 11, Veterans Day, and features a different family every day and shows how Operation Homefront Villages improve the course of the future for these families.


If you would like more information about Operation Homefront Villages, please email our Transitional Housing Program. If you would like to help families like these, give a gift here. We are grateful to so many partners that provide resources like educational benefits, employment readiness, family and individual counseling, peer to peer support, financial management, benefits assistance and morale building.



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Team Depot at work “Doing More for Vets” (from the Team Depot Facebook page)

Operation Homefront and The Home Depot have partnered to provide wounded warriors assistance with the costs of critical home repairs. We have been honored to work together to help wounded warrior families like Dawn and Joseph Puntam.  Soon after moving in to their new home, the family noticed water leaks. Dawn and Joseph were notified that a new roof would be needed in order to maintain home insurance. The family—with Dawn pregnant—started worrying how they could afford a new baby, and pay for roof repairs. Through The Home Depot Foundation funding, Operation Homefront was able to approve funding for the roof repair. The roof repairs were completed while Dawn gave birth to the couple’s second child. Their infant son named Russell, in honor of Joseph’s friend who was killed in action, was brought back to a cozy, safe home.

Read more about our work with Team Depot here, and help us spread the word that help is available.

To be eligible for the program:

(1) the service member sustained a post-9/11 service-connected wound/injury,

(2) the service member or spouse owns the property in question,

(3) the property is the family’s primary residence,

(4) the family is able to afford monthly mortgage costs and are current on the mortgage,

(5) the repairs are for the interior/heated living area of the home, and

(6) the repairs are not pre-existing to the purchase of the home.

Families interested in applying for this assistance should submit an application for financial assistance at www.operationhomefront.net and should be prepared to provide documentation related to the service member’s military service as well as the property in question.



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In the spirit and history of Veterans Day, we think there is no better way to honor service to country than to highlight some of the veterans we’ve been so very fortunate to help, each with their own unique and compelling story of commitment and sacrifice. We lead off the series with the story of Marine Corps Sgt. Carlos Evans.

carlosevansMarine Corps Sgt. Carlos Evans was looking for IEDs.

As the squad leader of a foot patrol, he and his unit were good at pinpointing and exterminating the deadly weapons. Evans was on his fourth deployment to the war zone, and he knew his job well.

But the enemy became increasingly cunning.

Insurgents planted bombs built with wooden parts instead of the easily detected metal versions. Evans stepped on one. He lost both his legs and his left hand in the blast.

Back in the United States, doctors worked to repair the damage. Evans lost track of the number of surgeries he underwent.

His wife, Rosemarie, hurried to his side at the hospital and left the couples’ two young daughters in North Carolina with friends. It was clear that Evans had months of recovery ahead. The family did not want to live apart.

Evans, his wife and young daughters, Nairoby and Genesis, moved into a hotel room near Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Evans was in a wheelchair. The space quickly became crowded and stressful.

Evans also worried about his family’s safety. It wasn’t right for his family to spend so much time alone, in a hotel, in a city they didn’t know, he said.

Operation Homefront provided the family with a safe home in which they could be comfortable. The Evans family lived in a free, fully furnished apartment at Operation Homefront Village in Bethesda while he underwent medical treatment. While there, Evans practiced walking on his prosthetics, along with his youngest daughter who was learning to walk, too. It also gave them enough space for family to visit and help out.

“We had that family environment back that we had at home,” Evans said. “We’re very, very, very grateful for Operation Homefront.”  Watch a video of Carlos speaking about his experience in his own words.

Where is the Evans family now? The Evans family moved to North Carolina to a newly built modified house that was provided by a local non-profit organization. Carlos has been able to meet President Obama and is involved in mono-skiing and cycling. The family is doing great and we are honored to have provided some relief to this very special family during their transition!

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.


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vetransdaykickoffblogVeteran’s Day is almost here, and for so many of us, the day holds a special meaning. Whether you’ve served your country in uniform, supported or cared for someone who served, had a father or mother, brother or sister, or any loved one at all who donned the uniform of their country, the day undoubtedly holds a personal sense of fulfillment and commitment for you.

However, there are many more of us who have a friend, a work colleague, or perhaps employ a veteran, who are equally vested in honoring and supporting service to country. For those of us at Operation Homefront, serving veterans is core to our mission and our values.

First proclaimed by President Woodrow Wilson as Armistice Day on Nov. 11, 1919 to honor World War I veterans, the holiday was later expanded to include all veterans and all wars. The choice of Nov. 11 stems from the Armistice with Germany, with the cessation of hostilities on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.

In the spirit and history of the day, this year we thought there’d be no better way to honor service to country than to highlight some of the veterans we’ve been so very fortunate to help, each with their own unique and compelling story of commitment and sacrifice.

With the connection to the number 11, beginning on Veteran’s Day and over the course of 11 days, we’ll highlight a veteran who we’ve come to know through our various programs of support. Getting to know these individuals and families is what we cherish, thanks to the generous support we receive from those like you who also seek to honor service and sacrifice to country.

I’m hoping that you will 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.


Jim Knotts, President and CEO
Operation Homefront


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