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New home, new start: Wounded warrior and family receive free house in RR

From left, Army Spc. Jason and Michaela Thompson shake hands with U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and Rio Rancho Mayor Gregg Hull on Wednesday before entering their new mortgage-free home in Cabezon. Photo by Stephen Montoya

RIO RANCHO, N.M. — A retired U.S. Army specialist was given the gift of a lifetime last week in the form of a newly renovated mortgage-free home.

Spc. Jason Thompson and his family were awestruck as they shook hands with dignitaries and members of the media on their way up the driveway to their new home. A yellow ribbon tied to a tree on the right side of the front yard signified the service and the sacrifice Thompson and his family have given throughout the years.

During his service in Afghanistan, Thompson experienced five mortar and rocket blasts, leaving him with traumatic brain injury. After receiving medical treatment, he returned to active duty for three years until medically retiring last June.

During the presentation of the home, Thompson expressed gratitude to people gathered for their kindness and gave thanks to God for his blessings.

“We love everybody who has been involved with this process; you guys will always have a place in our hearts,” he said with a tear in his eye.

According to a press release, Thompson received multiple awards for his service, including a Combat Infantry Badge and a Purple Heart.

Thomas Kilgannon, president of the non-profit Freedom Alliance, said his organization was inspired by Thompson’s service and proud to give an American hero the American Dream of homeownership.

“Many of our soldiers, those who have come home, suffer physical wounds, spiritual wounds and emotional wounds,” Kilgannon said. “What we do at Freedom Alliance is help them overcome those injuries and help them receive the most complete rehabilitation they can get.”

One such program repairs existing properties to give to veterans so they can begin the rehabilitation process. Thompson’s home, a five-bedroom, three-bathroom, two-story house in the Cabezon neighborhood, is just one in a series Freedom Alliance and U.S. Bank have teamed up to give away to worthy veterans.

“This is the 12th home that we will do now with U.S. Bank,” Kilgannon said. “A project like this can’t just be done. You can’t just wake up and say, ‘We are going to give a home to somebody’; you have to have great partners.”

Thompson and his wife, Michaela, are moving from Fort Campbell, Ky., with their three sons, ages 3, 14, and 16. Thompson will work as a heating and air-conditioning specialist, and Michaela will continue her career as a professional photographer.