Marine Corps veteran Peter Banach came home from Iraq in 2007 with a shattered ankle, a broken back and post-traumatic stress disorder caused by an improvised explosive device that detonated near his vehicle in Fallujah.
Returning to his old job as a police officer in New Jersey was no longer possible for Banach. Like tens of thousands of other combat-wounded veterans, he found it a struggle to pay his bills or find a stable, affordable place to live.
Now the soft-spoken 37-year-old former private first class has a new home he can call his own – the latest example of a charitable undertaking to find housing for Central Florida veterans in need. The 360-square-foot Oviedo home was made possible by two nonprofits, Fairways for Warriors and Operation Tiny Home, and a Longwood business, Cornerstone Tiny Homes.
“I no longer have to worry about having to find a new place to live when my lease is up,” said Banach, who will be on hand for a dedication ceremony Tuesday. “I can live my life. I no longer have to have some landlord telling me that I can’t put up the American flag because it is against the rules. This is now my home. And if I feel like putting up the flag, I can put up the American flag.”
For many military veterans facing long-term disabilities – such as PTSD – having an affordable place to live can be the difference between financial stability and spending nights on the street.
On any given night in 2017, nearly 40,000 veterans were homeless, according to a recent survey by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Veteran homelessness last year inched up by 1.5 percent from 2016, primarily in California cities, according to the survey. Since 2010, however, veteran homelessness has declined nationally by 46 percent.