On March 19, 2011, Army Specialist Carlos Gomez found himself drifting in and out of consciousness while being flown to Germany after being in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast in Afghanistan. His only thought was of his two young sons. “I was afraid I wasn’t going to live. I didn’t think I would ever see them again and watch them grow up,” he says.
Since becoming a father at the age of 15, every decision Carlos has made has been with his sons in mind. His main reason for joining the military was to support his young family, even if it meant leaving them for long periods of time. Months before being injured, Carlos said goodbye to his then six-year-old son Aaron and newborn son Isaac, and headed to his deployment with an inexplicable feeling he could not shake. “I just had a big fear that something life-changing was going to happen because I was Infantry,” he says.
That foreboding feeling turned out to be true. Carlos lost his right leg and sustained a spinal cord injury as a result of the IED blast, but was able to return to his beloved boys after undergoing rigorous therapies and treatment. As a single dad, Carlos continues to put his sons’ well being above everything else. He commutes over an hour to his job with the Army Corps of Engineers, often working through pain from wearing his prosthetic all day, to ensure his sons are clothed, fed, and happy. However, his current home presents obstacles that prevent him from being the father he desires. Since his residence is not big enough for his wheelchair, he is usually limited to one room. He often gets disappointed that he cannot keep up with his active sons. “It makes me sad I can’t run around with my kids and do activities with them,” he says.
In October of 2018, Carlos had surgery on his residual limb, putting him out of work for several months. This has caused much financial strain, forcing him to make difficult decisions. However, no matter how tough his situation gets, Carlos always makes sure his sons are taken care of before himself. Receiving a mortgage-free, specially adapted custom home will alleviate many of Carlos’ current challenges. When he first found out he was accepted into the Homes For Our Troops family, he immediately called his mom, Melody, his biggest supporter and advocate. “We have been waiting for this forever. It took a huge burden off my shoulders,” Carlos says.
The home will also relieve much stress for Melody, knowing her son is safe and nearby. Carlos and his sons currently live nearly an hour away from her. His HFOT home is being built in Menifee, Calif., a short distance from her. “I worry about him constantly. When he moves closer, I’ll be able to cook for him and the kids and help out more,” she says.
The financial freedom of the new specially adapted custom home will ease much of Carlos’ current stress. Having a home big enough for his wheelchair will allow him to spend more quality time with his sons. Growing up a city kid, Carlos is looking forward to being in a more rural area, where he and his sons can start raising animals, like chickens and horses. Above all, Carlos is looking forward to having a place that he and his boys can call their “forever home.”
Homes For Our Troops kicked off Carlos’ project on Jan. 26, 2019, and the home is projected to be completed by early fall. Carlos says he still feels like he’s dreaming, and is incredibly grateful to all HFOT’s donors and supporters. “After being injured, I had no hope in life. I always felt like no one appreciated Veterans and my service didn’t mean anything. But receiving this home has lifted my spirits up tremendously. I can’t even begin to express how much this means to me.”
To learn more about Carlos’ story and to contribute to his build visit www.hfotusa.org/gomez.