After serving in the military oversees, what could be better than coming home to a warm, welcoming house? For one, arriving home to a house that doesn’t have a mortgage.
When Austin Baker returned home to Maine after eight years serving with the Marine Corps that included two tours overseas, he struggled to find his footing as he experienced anxiety and depression. “When I got out, I started my own business, it fell through and I ended up losing everything,” Baker told Katherine Underwood of CBS 13.
So he applied to Operation Homefront, a Colorado Springs-based nonprofit that helps veterans struggling with financial difficulties with whatever they need — including housing, transportation, health care, moving assistance and car repairs. This month he became the first veteran in Maine to receive a mortgage-free home from Operation Homefront’s Homes on the Homefront program.
Operation Homefront partners with financial institutions including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Chase, and Meritage Homes who donate houses for veterans. Wells Fargo remodeled and donated the formerly foreclosed home that Baker received, which is conveniently located near the veterans services Baker needs. “I’m getting a lot better and getting a lot of help from the Portland Vet Center and the VA,” Baker said. Currently, Baker is enrolled at Southern Maine Community College, studying criminal justice, and he plans to continue on to law school. Meanwhile, he will soon move into his new home with his fiancée and kids.
Receiving the house, on which he’ll be responsible for paying the taxes, “was a big relief. I haven’t had many good things happen in a while, so it felt really good.”