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Veteran wounded in Afghanistan receives mortgage-free home

Home has extra special meaning for Ricardo Arreola, who used to live in truck

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A veteran wounded in combat now has the safety and security of a new house. 

On Thursday, Building Homes for Heroes, a national nonprofit, honored U.S. Army Specialist Ricardo Arreola with a mortgage-free home.

Arreola was wounded while serving in Afghanistan in 2009 when his unit was hit by a grenade and automatic gunfire. 

The four-bedroom home, valued at $275,000, will provide a safe and comfortable home for Arreola, who has PTSD, traumatic brain injury, a spinal injury and nerve damage. 

It has even more of a special meaning for him because he previously was living out of his truck. 

His three teenage children will also get their own bedrooms. 

"I was stunned, just stunned at how amazing when people get together how they can create such beauty," Arreola said. "Having my own room, having my own space is just something that I haven't been able to just enjoy for myself, and now my kids have their own free space."

Arreola said he's not taking his gift for granted and knows veterans don't always get the help they need. 

"People won't understand it unless you're in their shoes, and I'm sure there's people out there that are in my shoes, other veterans, and I hope they can come out and we can communicate cause, you know, they're not alone," he said.

Since 2006, Building Homes for Heroes has gifted nearly 200 mortgage-free homes to veterans and their families. 

"They have to pay their utility bills and cable bills and cellphone bills, but they will never have rent or mortgage again," said Kim Valdyke, director of construction for Building Homes for Heroes.

To learn more about the nonprofit and also how you can apply, click here.

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