2011 WTHBA Homes for Heroes Recipient

A Lubbock marine injured in the line of duty, and his family, received a huge surprise on Wednesday. “Operation Finally Home” gave 24-year-old Antony Villarreal and his wife an opportunity to rebuild their lives with a new home.

In 2005, the non-profit organization started helping wounded soldiers when they returned from war in Iraq and Afghanistan; wars that have been going on for years leaving thousands of veterans homeless.

The program strives to help those veterans get back on their feet, and on Wednesday, they continued that mission.

“They have to look at their scars and live with their pain the rest of their lives. We’re just trying to make it as easy as possible. We actually believe that they paid for these homes on the battlefield,” said Daniel Vargas, Operation Finally Home executive director.

Tears flooded the room Wednesday when “Operation Finally Home” surprised Villarreal with a place he can finally call home completely mortgage free. “It’s not everyday that you get a lot of people behind you telling that they’re going to help you out on your life back to recovery,”said Villarreal.

Villarreal was a marine injured in Afghanistan. Over 70 percent of his body was burned. He spent three months in a medically-induced coma and two years undergoing various surgeries.

Villarreal says he is grateful for everyone helping him out when he says he was just doing his job. “You know things happen for a reason,” said Villarreal. “God has a bigger plan for all of us. I know he has a bigger plan for me. If he didn’t I wouldn’t be here today.”

Another wounded soldier, Levi Wilson, underwent 35 surgeries on his back and leg after being injured by a thousand pound IED in Iraq. “I was laying there cold and bloody. It was the worst day of my life. I thought my life was over,” said Wilson.

He too received a new home from “Operation Finally Home.”

“I broke down in tears. It was just one of the best things that’s ever happened to me,” said Wilson.

Wilson offered his support to Villarreal who will receive the 23rd house. And even through these tough economic times, builders still find a way to give a helping hand. “They actually tell us, if I’m hurting I can imagine what this family is going through. This is something we have to do and they step up to the plate,” said Vargas.

With a little help, Villarreal’s dreams can come true, like many others before him. “I’d like to tell everybody that I did my job. I had a higher calling to go to college,” said Villarreal.

The West Texas Home Builders Association will build the new house for Villarreal and his wife to be part of the 2011 Parade of Homes.

“They’re standing on a wall protecting us giving us everything. We should stand up and give back to them,” said Vargas.

If you would like to donate to “Operation Finally Home” go to http://babasupport.org

Source: kcbd.com