For Spc. Jesus Medrano and his family, home is where the Army sends them — and that home has never been new.
That will change this week, when the infantryman and his family move into Fort Carson’s newest housing development: Chippewa Village, which debuted last week with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“It’s way more roomy,” Jesus’ wife, Angelica, said Thursday after entering her new house for the first time. “This is really nice. There is more open space for the kids to run around.”
Each of Chippewa Village’s 180 homes, intended for junior-enlisted soldiers with families, boasts four bedrooms and features such as an attached garage and upstairs laundry room, said Lynn Rivera, senior community manager for Balfour Beatty Communities.
A total of 16 homes are ready for move-in this week, and the additional 164 should be completed at a rate of 16 per week, she said.
For the Medranos, the timing couldn’t be better: Their third child is due in June, the same month Jesus is slated to deploy to Afghanistan.
Moreover, the Apache Village home they’ve been living in isn’t wheelchair accessible — a reality that has made life difficult for Jesus IV, 2, who has Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder.
Knowing that his family will be living in a new, wheelchair-accessible home makes deploying a bit easier for Jesus, who said he now feels “a little more comfortable” being away a year.
That’s why quality Army family housing is important, said Ivan Bolden, chief of public-private initiatives for the U.S. Army.
At Thursday’s ceremony, Bolden shared a story relayed to him by a general who had encountered one of his soldiers grinning in the wee hours of the morning at a remote mountain outpost in Afghanistan.
When the general asked why he was so happy, the soldier told him he’d just gotten off the phone with his wife, who had been using a treadmill in an Army housing development’s community center while watching her kids play. The soldier said his wife told him, “Honey, I’m all right. The Army’s taking care of us. You just take care of what you have to and come home to us,” Bolden said.
“The housing communities that we build don’t fight terrorism, but they do provide a safe haven and support for those heroes who do,” Bolden added.
Brig. Gen. James Doty, who also spoke at the ribbon-cutting, said the Army sees providing soldiers and their families with a quality of life “commensurate with the quality of their service” as its duty, though this hasn’t always been the case.
He sees Chippewa Village as a prime example of this paradigm shift.
“The old saying was that if the Army wanted you to have a family, they would have issued you one,” Doty said. “Now these houses are for our junior enlisted. They all have four bedrooms, they’re absolutely beautiful, and they’re energy efficient. I think it says a lot about the commitment of the country when we provide this standard of living to our soldiers.”