LCpl Jose Javier Vargas

Sun Prairie, WI

Home Award Program Recipient

Marine Lance Corporal Jose Javier Vargas was born in Santiago Rodriguez, Dominican Republic in 1990 and graduated from East Brooklyn Congregation (EBC East New York) High School in 2008. While attending high school, Jose met the love of his life Erica Ibarguen; she was class valedictorian and Jose was the prom prince. The couple would later marry in August 2011.

In February 2009, Jose followed in his older brother’s footsteps and enlisted with the United States Marine Corps, attending boot camp in Parris Island, S.C., and then Infantry School at Camp Geiger, North Carolina. Upon graduation from infantry school, Lance Corporal Vargas was assigned to Weapons, Company, 1st Battalion 2nd Marines (1/2, Timberwolfe) in Camp Lejeune, N.C. as a mortarman, training in several states including Virginia, Arizona and California.

In March 2010, LCpl Vargas deployed with 1/2 to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, where it engaged in frequent and heavy attacks by machine guns, mortars and rocket propelled grenades. LCpl Vargas’ Unit suffered 13 casualties, with over 80 wounded. On one particular patrol, LCpl Vargas was driving an armored vehicle when it came under attack by an improvised explosive device (IED), crushing his side of the vehicle. Remarkably, LCpl Vargas was still able to perform his duties even after the shock of the blast; disregarding his own injuries, he then tended to the welfare of his fellow Marines and evacuated them to safety.

Over the next several weeks, it became evident that the injuries he sustained from the blast and the emotional and psychological effects of combat stress were more profound than he had previously surmised. Returning stateside and back to base in May of 2010, LCpl Vargas was then treated inpatient at a Tampa VA Medical Center for a month due to his injuries, which included mild traumatic brain injury and chronic posttraumatic headaches. After that time, LCpl Vargas spent a month undergoing treatment and therapies at the Poplar Springs Hospital in Virginia.

LCpl Vargas was assigned to Wounded Warrior East Battalion, Camp Lejeune, N.C. where he was medically retired on May 30, 2012. His military awards and decorations include: Combat Action Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal and the NATO Medal-ISAF Afghanistan.

While recovering from his injuries, Jose learned about Homes For Our Troops and its Home Award Program. He chose to apply for the Program in March 2013, but doubted that his application would be accepted. However, just weeks later he was notified that he had been approved and that a mortgage-free home was available for him and his wife Erica in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, he was thrilled beyond words.

Erica graduated in June 2012 from Smith College in Amherst, Mass., with a Liberal Arts Degree in Sociology and is currently employed as a Paralegal. Jose, utilizing his GI Bill, is currently enrolled as a full time student at the Art Institute of New York City and pursing a graphic design degree. He would like to work as an art director in advertising once he completes his studies. Jose and Erica are proud New York City natives, but are extremely excited to move to their new home and begin a new chapter in their lives together. Jose, who has only known apartment living his entire life, says he is grateful to Homes For Our Troops for the opportunity of home ownership and financial freedom that this gift represents.