U.S. Bank, in conjunction with Freedom Alliance, is presenting the keys to a newly-renovated, mortgage-free home to medically retired Army Sgt. Aaron Hillis on Friday, March 2 at 10 a.m. Located at 426 Portifino Court, this is the eleventh home donated jointly by U.S. Bank and Freedom Alliance, a charitable organization which provides support to injured service members and military families.
“This gift will definitely help ease a lot of financial stress and anxiety, as well as allow me to better focus on taking care of myself,” said Hillis. “I’m so thankful to U.S. Bank and Freedom Alliance for this amazing opportunity.”
Hillis, 28, was born and raised in Inverness, Florida. In 2010, Hillis enlisted in the U.S. Army and attended Basic Training and Airborne School in Fort Benning, Georgia. He then spent two years stationed with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Germany.
In June 2012, Hillis deployed to Afghanistan for nine months. While on patrol with his squad, he drove over an improvised explosive device (IED), which went off under his feet. The blast left Hillis unconscious and caused a traumatic brain injury (TBI). This was also the beginning of his battle with post-traumatic stress (PTS), which he still suffers from today. Hillis was awarded a Purple Heart for the injuries he sustained during that incident. He has also received multiple other honors, including five Army Commendation Medals and an Army Achievement Medal.
Hillis medically retired from the U.S. Army in February 2017. He is rated 100 percent disabled by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Hillis and his wife of four years, Elizabeth, currently live in Olympia, Washington. They are excited about this mortgage-free home, as it will help ease financial burdens. The couple is hoping to eventually open their own business, a gun range and store.
This renovated three-bedroom, two-bath house is donated by U.S. Bank through its Housing Opportunities after Military Engagement (H.O.M.E.) program, in conjunction with Freedom Alliance’s Heroes to Homeowners program. Chronos Solutions, a real estate services provider, also contributed to the cost of the repairs made to the home.
Several U.S. Bank and Freedom Alliance representatives will be present to welcome the Hillis Family to their new home, including John Elmore, Vice Chairman Community Banking and Branch Delivery; Tim Welsh, Vice Chairman Consumer Banking Sales and Support; Mike Ott, president of U.S. Bank Private Wealth Management; and Tom Kilgannon, President of Freedom Alliance.
“At U.S. Bank, we are committed to supporting military veterans and their families,” said Ott, who is a U.S. Air Force veteran. “It is a privilege to give back to someone who gave so much to our country. Welcome to your new home, Sgt. Hillis.”
In addition to partnering with military service organizations such as Freedom Alliance, U.S. Bank supports veterans and military family members through Proud to Serve, an employee-led business resource group. Through Proud to Serve, each new veteran is personally welcomed by leaders who are also veterans. Employees are also encouraged to use internal social networking forums to connect, network and share stories. The bank employs more than 2,000 veterans, including National Guard and Reserve members.
“Aaron Hillis is a perfect example of a true American hero. He, along with his wife, have sacrificed so much for our country and Aaron is still facing challenges as he continues his rehabilitation. This mortgage-free home will put the Hillis family on a good track toward reaching their goals,” said President of Freedom Alliance, Tom Kilgannon.
“We are grateful for our partnership with U.S. Bank,” Kilgannon added, “without them, these life-changing donations would not be possible.”