Veteran gets rent-free home in Surprise

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Jonathan Hancock received a house that is rent free in the west Valley. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Jonathan Hancock received a house that is rent free in the west Valley. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Hancock walked across the country after reaching rock bottom. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Hancock walked across the country after reaching rock bottom. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Thanks to Christopher Todd Communities’ “New Lease on Life “ program, he has a place where he can truly stay put. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Thanks to Christopher Todd Communities’ “New Lease on Life “ program, he has a place where he can truly stay put. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
SURPRISE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

It doesn't matter who you are, there is nothing like coming home, but, for U.S. Marine Jonathan Hancock, a veteran of the Iraq and Afghan wars, finding his way home, has been a long and painful journey.

“I was drinking a lot. I ended up getting two DUIs about a year apart from each other and then attempted suicide on my own life,” he told us.

Battling haunting memories, his emotional state collapsed while his weight ballooned.

”I was 308 pounds,” he said.

Then he saw the story of a man walking across the country, 1 kilometer for every service member killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. In that story, he found inspiration and a way to begin healing by walking. He started a nearly 6,000-mile cross-country journey.

“And meet with the Marine brothers I served with in the battle of Ramadi and meet Gold Star families of our fallen," said Hancock.

[RELATED: Arizona veteran receives mortgage-free home]

He eventually ended up in Arizona where he is now a full-time student at Arizona State University's Thunderbird Graduate School. And on Friday, thanks to Christopher Todd Communities’ “New Lease on Life “ program, he has a place where he can truly stay put.

“This program allows a veteran to live rent free for a year at Christopher Todd,” says Christopher Todd vice president of operations Chad Bowman, “And in the years after they pay a portion, to help them assimilate back into their life as a civilian.”

Joanna Sweatt, the chief operating officer of the Veterans Directory, adds, “So it is really a kind of nice landing point for a transition service member to have some wrap around support as they start their new civilian life."

Hancock says it affirms something he learned on that long walk.

”I started this walk, I thought 99 percent of the country would be mean and rude, careless. And when I finished, I found 99 percent of the country is great and there are great people everywhere,” he said.

Now, as he moves into his new home, Hancock says the kindness that brought him here offers a message of inspiration not only to fellow vets but everyone who calls America home.

“You were there for your brothers in a time when it was hard, be there for them now by being better and asking yourself every day,‘Is this the person I want to be?’ And if it is not, take the steps to change it,“ he said.

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