Program helping wounded vets piece life together

July 26, 2012 4:06:55 AM PDT
Becoming a homeowner can be tough for anyone, but for veterans returning from overseas deployment, the process can be overwhelming. That's why a new program is now working hard to give our vets a smooth transition from the frontline to the home front.

Ryan Rodriguez and his wife Rosa are proud new homeowners. Rodriguez is also a wounded warrior.

"Over my two deployments, I had multiple brain injuries and I also had some spine injuries," Rodriguez said.

After two deployments in Iraq, the U.S. Marine is also in need of a corneal transplant and has a service dog to help him.

Rodriguez was hurting physically and financially until a program called Homes on the Homefront gave him a chance at a better life. After two years of financial counseling, a home will be his -- mortgage free.

"Nobody in my opinion deserves it more than these men and women who have sacrificed for our country," said Paula Pettibone with Operation Homefront.

Pettibone is with the group that, through Chase Bank, donated the home. Their program just began this spring and Rodriguez is one of the first to benefit. He was one of 500 who applied for this house.

"It's gonna take a long time to get used to this. I say that I'm lucky. My family reminds me that it's not luck, there's a lot of things that I sacrificed; and I don't see it that way, I see it as something that I wanted to do," Rodriguez said.

And maybe the only one happier than the Rodriguez family Wednesday was Pettibone.

"I get to give people houses. I mean there is no better job. To hear the excitement on the other end of the phone when you call someone and say you've been matched with a house," Pettibone said.

The organization has given away about a dozen homes so far. They initially wanted to give 100 homes across the country in 2010, but they've had so much success with this program that they think they could hit 200 before the end of the year.

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