HOUSTON -- Many brave men and women have given their lives fighting for our freedom, and for many who returned home, the real struggle began. Some say they felt lost, or forgotten about, and were faced with daily struggles trying to maintain basic needs. Homeland Diaries: America's Veterans is a 60-minute documentary special that puts a name and face to millions of men and women who have sacrificed in so many ways.
Sgt. Michael Tucciarone, a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, served from 1999 - 2006. He is one of the many heroes who did not recieve a hero's welcome after coming home.
"When I first got out I knew it was time to work, I have a family I have to provide for," he said.
But it wasn't as simple as he thought it would be to take care of his family.
"He was very proud of his service and he should be but, unfortunately afterward, what was waiting for him was not -- there just wasn't a lot there," his wife, Kelly Tucciarone, said. "He was given a lot of leads that were minimum wage jobs or part-time jobs, things where he completely started where somebody maybe half his age was starting. He had put in the time, he had earned that title."
The Tucciarone family had to go to drastic measures to make ends meet.
"There were low points where we had to go to food pantries and find food that had just expired, but it was still good for a couple of days and have places that were willing to help us with a month of rent or something. It was kind of like getting punched in the gut. I mean you've got to put all your pride aside," Michael Tucciarone said. "There was one time where I had to go to church and ask the pastor for a fuel card just to get to work. I'll never forget that because it was only $20 and I teared up that I even had to ask for it."
Kelly Tucciarone said, as a military wife, it was difficult watching her husband struggle. They are not alone. The documentary, which airs Saturday on CW 39, will highlight many vetarans with similar stories.