MIAMI — A South Florida veteran received a special kind of thank you for serving our country.
The Stars and Stripes fly proudly outside a home in Miramar, and Thursday morning an American hero pulled up to the driveway and got the surprise of his life.
He was given the keys to the home as a thank you for his military service, WFOR-TV reports.
Army veteran Ricardo Gutierrez de Pineres and his wife Juliana were given a 1,400 square foot home by the non-profit organization Building Homes for Heroes and J.P. Morgan Chase.
The home has two bedrooms and two and a half baths and was donated to the couple mortgage free.
“It’s amazing,” said Gutierrez de Pineres. “It’s more than I expected and honestly way more than I ever expected.”
Gutierrez de Pineres served in Afghanistan, where he injured his back during a downed aircraft recovery mission.
He deals with PTSD and admits the transition to civilian life has been challenging.
“When you first get out of the military you are faced with many problems and situations that are hard to deal with,” he explained to WFOR’s Elliott Rodriguez. “The military prepares you as best they can but you still have a lot of uncertainty.”
Enter Building Homes for Heroes and J.P. Morgan Chase.
The non-profit organization and the financial institution have worked together to provide more than one thousand homes to returning veterans.
Gutierrez de Pineres applied for help online and got the good news on the phone while living with his in laws.
“When I got the call that Homes for Heroes was giving me a home for free it was too much to handle. I just lost it,” he said.
Kim Valdyke of Building Homes for Heroes said Ricardo and Juliana fit the bill for becoming new homeowners.
“He served his country since 1995 and was injured on duty,” she said. “He has PTSD and is dealing with health issues. He applied for our program and we are happy to provide him with a forever home.”
Gutierrez said the generosity is more than he ever expected.
“I am very thankful and simply overwhelmed,” he said. “When I was in the military I felt I had all my ducks in order. When I left the military all my ducks scattered. This is helping me get my ducks back in place.”