Emotions ran high Tuesday afternoon as a local wounded warrior and his wife were handed the keys to a new mortgage free and fully furnished home – a small gift for the Marine's sacrifice overseas.
With several community leaders cheering them on, Marine Corporal Anthony Villarreal and his wife Jessica, also a veteran, walked into their own home for the first time. "I balled," said Anthony. "I just broke down in tears because ... it's a place I'll get to come home to everyday and relax."
"It's a pretty big deal," cried his wife, Jessica Villarreal. "We see our parents struggle to make ends meet, so we're eternally grateful. I'm so excited it's done!"
Last year Operation Finally Home chose Anthony to get the new home after he came back from Afghanistan a wounded warrior. In 2008 60% of his body was severely burned, disfiguring his face and forcing doctors to amputate part of his right arm and most of his left hand fingers.
"It means the world to him, I know it does," said Victoria Villarreal, Anthony's younger sister. "He's very glad for what he did for this country – for us. This is what he and Jessica deserved."
Built by the West Texas Home Builders Association, the new two-story, three-bedroom home was made just for Anthony's convenience. Instead of door and faucet knobs, the house is equipped with handles making it easier on Anthony. "It's what I needed. The past couple of years have been hard on me with just trying to wash my hands or opening doors," said Anthony.
While the home is what he needed, it also features stuff the happy couple wanted. "The pool is pretty awesome," said Jessica. "The shower is pretty big, you could probably fit like seven people in there," she laughed. "The surround system through the whole house – that's a big thing for me," added Anthony.
The home was built for free, and the mortgage will be paid by tickets sold for the West Texas Home Builders Association Parade of Homes beginning this Saturday.
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