Christmas comes early for Army vet after city of Berwyn gives him new home

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - An Illinois Army veteran and his family were literally given a new lease on life Wednesday.

They are now first-time homeowners. The gift was partially made possible by a holiday fund established by the city of Berwyn.

"On behalf of the city of Berwyn, the mayor, Robert J. Lovero, and everybody that really respects our military and our veterans, here's your home.”

With a handshake and a hug, the Army veteran and his family are now homeowners.

FOX 32 captured the moment the family experienced their new furnished home, for the first time. 

"We were pretty down and out and destitute, and about to be homeless and we were really looking for a lot of help and praying for a miracle,” said Army veteran Scott Olijar.

Olijar did a tour of duty in Afghanistan five years ago, and it changed his life forever.

"Dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and some traumatic brain injury issues and stuff like that, it's made it really hard to adjust, to cope with life,” Olijar said.

The condo was available as part of a program to fill vacant properties in Berwyn. The Illinois housing development authority paid off the home for the family.

And the city, through a holiday fund, provided furniture and food.

"It's amazing, it's like waking up in someone else's life, like every one of your dreams has been handed to you on a silver platter,” said wife Jennifer Olijar.

Berwyn’s mayor told FOX 32 that the holiday fund is collected every year. It’s made up of private donations from neighbors and local businesses.

"We need to do for people that did for us, and that's what it comes down to,” Mayor Lovero said.

"More of this is needed because there's a lot more of us veterans out there that need this type of help, this is a lifechanger and this is why veterans do what they do,” Olijar said.

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