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Military family receives free home

Operation Homefront and Meritage Homes surprised a military veteran and his family with a new, mortgage-free home in Zephyrhills.

ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. — During his 11 years in the Navy, Garfield Johnson no doubt saw some amazing sights around the world. But nothing compares to what he saw for the first time last week in Zephyrhills – a brand new, mortgage-free home for his family.

“Words cannot express how thankful we are to Operation Homefront, to Meritage Homes and to all the people out there who have the heart and the will to help veterans,” Johnson said.

Since 2012, the nonprofit Operation Homefront has provided more than 700 homes to veterans. The homes are donated by corporate partners like Meritage Homes.

“Our goal is to help build strong, stable, and secure military families," said Beth McGregor from Operation Homefront.

Meritage employees waving flags and holding “Welcome Home” signs lined the street as the Johnson family drove up to their new house in the Bristol Meadows community in Zephyrhills. This is the 14th home donated by Meritage nationwide.

After taking a quick tour, Johnson’s wife Tia was overwhelmed.

“It’s beautiful, it’s beautiful, it’s amazing,” she exclaimed.

A near-fatal accident on the flight deck of his ship prompted Garfield’s retirement from the Navy. Once based in San Diego, he, Tia and their two young children will now be closer to family in Florida.

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