8 military families move into free apartments

Posted at 6:44 PM, Jan 27, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-28 08:34:21-05

SAN DIEGO -- Eight military families are settling into their new apartments in Mission Valley.

Operation Homefront Villages held an opening ceremony on Wednesday, but most of the 30 people had already unpacked. Some were on hand to hear what it was like to worry from Jose Ruiz.

"After moving so much, all my kids asked for is a home," Ruiz said.

He heard his son praying about it,  but 11 years in the Marine Corps meant a lot of moving.

"We have boxes saved from different items, and it's just hard getting rid of them because I just think I'm going to move again," Ruiz added. 

He fell off a seven-ton truck twice, he was blasted by IEDs and came under mortar attacks. He has Traumatic Brain Injury, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and a torn hip.

Fear added to the agony when he couldn't serve. He did not know what to do, where to live and how to pay rent.

"I would ride my bike to work. There were times I would see families under a bridge living," he said.

He went on to explain how he worried it could be them.

"When they say 'I want a house,' it was heartbreaking," Ruiz explained.

"It was really, really hard because I couldn't put them in a house, and that's all anybody wants to do is put their kids in a house," he added.

The nonprofit gives select injured vets a fully-furnished place to live for several months. It bridges the gap from when the paychecks stop and the benefits start. When they graduate from the program, vets and their families have VA benefits in place, reduced debt and emergency savings available.

The parent nonprofit, Operation Homefront, gave Ruiz the American dream he fought to protect; His own home.

"It was everything," he said. "I wouldn't have to move anymore."

He can chuck the moving boxes, and it answered his son's prayers.

"I love my house!" his son, Ares said. "I love it!"