SAN ANTONIO -

A local Air Force veteran, who was permanently blinded while serving in Afghanistan, recently received a brand new home, courtesy of Operation Finally Home. 

The nonprofit organization provides mortgage-free homes to wounded and disabled veterans and their widows.

On Tuesday, Operation Finally Home recipient Staff Sgt. Michael Malarsie was joined by actor, author, motivational speaker, and fellow veteran J.R. Martinez, to talk about the program.

Martinez, spokesman for Operation Finally Home, previously served in the Army and suffered burns to 40 percent of his body while fighting in Iraq. 

During his recovery at Brooke Army Medical Center, he began sharing his story, and went on to have a successful acting career.

“It’s the little things that we can do, to kind of say thank you to him, and show our appreciation for his service and to his family,” Martinez said. “More importantly, to go out there, and be all that he can be.”

Malarsie, who received the New Braunfels home in March, said he was thankful for the mortgage-free home, which he will share with his wife and three children.

“The weight off of my shoulders, especially as a father, as the one who is supposed to provide a home to a family, having this home given to us by Operation Finally home, it's still hard to put into words,” Malarsie said. “They changed our life, they gave us a new lease on life. It's opened up so many doors, that never would have been opened for us.”

Malarsie, who joined the military following high school, was blinded just a few months into his deployment, after his foot patrol was ambushed.

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