Aaron and Elizabeth Hillis are moving 2,796 miles across the country to start the next chapter of their life.
Hillis, a medically-retired sergeant in the U.S. Army, is receiving a mortgage-free home from U.S. Bank through a program in which the bank partners with nonprofit Freedom Alliance to donate homes to wounded veterans. Hillis, 28, suffered a traumatic brain injury in an improvised explosive device blast while on patrol in Afghanistan in 2012, and today continues to battle post-traumatic stress.
The Purple Heart recipient and his wife will move to their new home in Boiling Springs, South Carolina all the way from Olympia, Washington – a decision that he said will help ease financial stress and allow him to better focus on health and wellbeing.
U.S. Bank and Freedom Alliance have donated 11 homes in recent years. To help the Hillis’ transition, we asked three past recipients for their advice to him and other veterans planting roots in a new community:
“Once you receive the home, now is not the time to sit back. You know as well as I do that there are many deserving veterans. Use your gift as a platform to serve the veteran community; volunteer at your local VFW, DAV, VA Hospital, or American Legion to help those in need. Be charitable, humble, and gracious.”
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Marko (Ret.) Marko Milosevic – Forest Lake, MN
“Go out and explore your surroundings. Every new place offers amazing things to do. You just have to scratch the surface to find them.”
U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class (Ret.) William "Joe" Haney – Las Vegas, NV
“Just know that you will experience some stress during your move, but that will only strengthen your relationship with [yourself] and your family. Also, getting to know your neighbors will be beneficial in becoming better familiarized with your new community. Congratulations on becoming a veteran homeowner.”
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. (Ret.) Rodolfo "Javier" Munoz – Baytown, TX
Pat Swanson works in public affairs and communications with U.S. Bank. To learn more about how the bank supports veterans, visit Proud to Serve.