Residents of one northwest- side community might not know it yet, but a hero will soon move into their neighborhood.
Keys to the home near North Oracle and West Rudasill roads were presented Monday to U.S. Army scout Eric Anthony Griego and his wife of 15 months, Corie Griego, a member of the U.S. Air Force Security Forces. The home was donated by Bank of America as part of the Military Warrior Support Foundation's Homes 4 Wounded Heroes program, which provides mortgage-free homes to soldiers who were injured during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This is the first home in Tucson - and the 143rd nationwide - given to a veteran, said Military Warriors board member Paul LaVoie of Dallas, who came to Tucson for the event.
The couple will share the home with Eric Griego's 6-year-old daughter, Rylie. She's already planning a princess theme for her bedroom decor.
Eric Griego, who was born in Globe and raised in Mesa, was wounded during a firefight in Afghanistan on Oct. 18, 2010. He was shot in the neck, and the bullet zigzagged through his abdomen, causing massive internal damage. He still has open wounds from a subsequent infection, his mother, Brenda Griego, said. She, her husband, Peter, and their daughter, Ariana, 21, drove to Tucson from Mesa for the house-key presentation. Eric Griego also has a younger brother, 18-year-old Chris.
"The timing was all there. It was meant to be," Peter Griego said. "As a parent, you want your children to grow up with stability, and this will go a long way to giving him stability and independence."
The selection process to receive a home was surprisingly quick.
"My wife and I went onto the website and applied for a house, and two weeks later they called and said we got it," Eric said.
They filled out the Homes 4 Wounded Heroes application online, spoke by phone to a representative from the nonprofit who determined the family's needs and, within days, they were offered the three-bedroom, two-bath house in Tucson.
The couple had only seen photos of the refurbished home before Monday morning. "They wouldn't even let us in until they gave us the keys," Eric Griego said.
The home has tile floors in the common areas, high ceilings, a fireplace in the dining room and a small landscaped backyard.
"I love it," Corie Griego said. "I can't wait to decorate."
The couple will move to Tucson later this year. Both are still serving at bases in San Antonio - Eric at Fort Sam Houston, Corie at Lackland Air Force Base. Eric Griego will retire in September with a medical discharge. Corie Griego will receive her discharge in October.
Both plan to start at the University of Arizona next year. Eric Griego wants to pursue a degree in education with the goal of becoming a high school history and social studies teacher. Corie Griego will major in biology, laying the ground work for admission into a school of dentistry.
Bank of America has committed to donating 80 homes nationwide to veterans through the program, LaVoie said. Overall, Homes 4 Wounded Heroes has commitments from various financial partners for at least 1,000 homes.
About the group
The Military Warriors Support Foundation, based in San Antonio, was founded in 2007 by Leroy Sisco, a retired three-star Army general who served in the military for 42 years.
In addition to Homes 4 Wounded Heroes, the Military Warriors Support Foundation offers three other programs for veterans:
• CEO's 4 Heroes - Provides links between companies and veterans seeking employment.
• Skills 4 Life - Offers activities and workshops for wounded veterans and their families, including mentoring, counseling, financial planning, outdoor sports and vacations.
• Education 4 Heroes - Offers college scholarships and access to test-out programs and educational assessment counseling.
Go to militarywarriors.org for more information.
Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 573-4191.