OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Thousands of soldiers are expected to return home this year from the war in Afghanistan. Many will need help paying bills and finding homes in Kansas and Missouri. That's why Operation Homefront is setting up a field office in the metro area.
Operation Homefront helps returning veterans meet their immediate needs: Paying for things like rent, utilities and food.
HOW TO HELP: Operation Homefront website
Gifts come from ordinary citizens making donations with no strings attached, just a way for the group to thank those who have served.
John Eichenberger returned home from Afghanistan much sooner than he anticipated.
While on patrol with the Army's 10th Mountain Division in August, Eichenberger stepped on a improvised explosive device, which ripped off part of his leg. Now, just after learning how to walk again, he never thought he'd have a place to call home.
"With debt from going through all the hospitalizations, and all that, it would be impossible right now," Eichenberger said. "They made it possible for me to have a home. Not be buried in bills."
Operation Homefront is giving Eichenberger a house in Overland Park. It's a foreclosure donated to the non-profit by one of the big banks. And if Eichenberger shows he can maintain the house and pay all the bills for the next two years, the home becomes his free and clear.
It's just one of many ways Operation Homefront says it strives to support troops facing more changes in their lives.
"When you're helping somebody up at this level, and they're just wondering where their next meal is coming from or how they will get to work? How they will keep that bill collector away from them? I think we all know what that's like at some point in our life," said Paul Cupach, executive director of Operation Homefront Kansas-Missouri. "It's just a sense of security. I know where to go next."
On Operation Homefront's website, there are cases listed of veterans that need specific help. Anyone can donate as little as $1 to each individual cause.
Cupach says larger donations provided 150 holiday dinners for soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood in December. And another corporate sponsor gave more than 110 toys for families at Fort Riley.
Cupach says every effort makes a difference in providing support to those who have sacrificied for our nation.