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Operation Homefront, the San Antonio-based national nonprofit that builds strong, stable, and secure military families, marked a major milestone for military and veteran families by awarding their 500th deed of a mortgage-free home to a graduate of its Homes on the Homefront (HOTH) program, Army veteran Justin Pecoraro and his family in McHenry, Illinois.
“We cannot express our gratitude just to have the chance to experience something as kind and rewarding as this,” said Pecoraro. “As I was transitioning out of the Army just under four years ago, we were plagued with uncertainty about our future. Since entering the program, each day has gotten better for our family.”
The HOTH program was created with the assistance of corporate partners like JPMorgan Chase – which donated the home in McHenry – to award mortgage-free homes to our nation’s veterans and military families.
The Pecoraros graduated from the HOTH program, successfully completing the financial training and becoming homeowners. After two years in the program, the Pecoraros paid down more than $11,000 in debt, saved about $4,000, and invested about $2,000 back into the three-bedroom home. In addition, the entire family has made lifelong friends in the community.
“We are so proud of Justin and his family for completing the Homes on the Homefront program and earning the deed to this home,” said Brig Gen (ret) Robert Thomas, chief operating officer of Operation Homefront. “We are also excited and thrilled to reach the milestone of deeding 500 homes to veterans and military families, and are very proud to be able to provide this life-changing assistance in their time of need because they have served all of us in our nation’s time of need. In addition to this milestone, by the end of this year, we will have deeded homes with a value of over $75 million to military families.”
Pecoraro, his wife Ashley, and three daughters were accepted into the HOTH program in April 2016. They entered the program and have been living in the home mortgage-free while learning to be successful homeowners through the program’s financial training. They were selected for the HOTH program because the home was near extended family, which allowed them to establish close ties in the community and which supported them as they went back to school.
In 2006, Pecoraro enlisted in the Army, rose to the rank of sergeant, and served as a squad leader. He deployed three times during his term of service, in 2006, 2009, and 2011 – all to Afghanistan. Pecoraro suffered injuries to his back, shoulder, knee and elbow including tinnitus.
Pecoraro struggled when he left the military in 2014 after nine years of service. He has a Veterans Affairs disability rating and some injuries were from the physically demanding nature of his job. He was also involved in a vehicle rollover accident on deployment and attributes the tinnitus and hearing loss in one ear to operating an anti-tank missile system.
Since the HOTH program began in 2012, more than 600 families have entered the program. Homes on the Homefront is open to veterans of all eras and has even placed Korean and Vietnam War veterans into homes. Military families accepted into the program have come from all branches of service, including the National Guard and Reserve.
Operation Homefront has placed 114 female veterans and 1,089 children into this program. The HOTH program provides veterans and their families with the opportunity to move into an Operation Homefront home and work directly with housing caseworkers and other financial trainers to learn and plan for home ownership. Most of the military families are with the program for one to three years. When they successfully complete the program and are ready for homeownership they receive the deed to their home, mortgage-free.