Homes for Veteran Families Recently, I had the great pleasure of meeting USMC Veteran Fernando Sanchez and his lovely wife Tatiana at their nicely appointed home which they acquired through “Homes for Families”, an organization dedicated to assisting Veterans in purchasing their own homes. Dominant Baseball Pitcher Fernando Sanchez was born April 2, 1980, at Northridge Hospital but he grew up in Panorama City, California, and graduated from Monroe High School in June 1998. Part of Fernando’s early education was attending Catholic schools so when he transferred to Monroe it was quite a culture shock. However, Fernando was previously a dominant baseball pitcher in Little League and then an excellent lineman for Monroe’s football team so he had no problem gaining many friends who admired his athleticism. Fernando remains grateful that his parents went above the call of duty to provide him a great private school educational experience from kindergarten through the 10th grade. Unfortunately, his parents divorced, hence his transfer to public schooling at Monroe High School. United States Marine Corps Fernando had been such a dominant pitcher so much so that he was significantly over used and he ultimately “threw out” his arm rendering him unable to continue his passion, but he also loved playing football. Due to his parents divorce and subsequent foreclosure of their Panorama City home resulted in Fernando, his Mother and his sister moving in with an aunt who lived in Reseda. Fernando began thinking that it was time that he must become independent. Fernando had become infatuated with the U.S. Marine Corps firmly believing that they were the toughest of the tough and as a former rough and tumble football player being a Marine was right up his alley. Besides, Fernando was highly impressed with the Corps outstanding uniforms so on January 4, 1999, he enlisted and promptly began three months of Boot Camp Training at San Diego. Next, he took three weeks of Combat Training at Camp Pendleton and then Fernando was assigned to Camp Johnson, North Carolina, to learn Finance which was his MOS (Military Occupational Specialty). For two months, Fernando learned everything necessary for handling payroll to Marines and government contractors. Honorably Discharged After his finance training, Fernando was assigned to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where he spent the next two years in the payroll department handling pay check distribution to Marines and paying Fort LeJeune’s utility bills. During the summer of 2001 Fernando was reassigned to Camp Pendleton to continue payroll duties with the 1st Force Service Support Group. By January 3, 2003, his USMC contract expired thus Fernando was Honorably Discharged. After returning to his family, Fernando decided to make good use of the GI Bill so he attended Pierce Junior College in Woodland Hills taking full time courses. He also pursued his dream of playing college football and upon try-outs Fernando made their team. Being a full time student and handling football practice, weight lift training, etc., Fernando was challenged, but as a Marine he welcomed it. Fernando was used to waking up early and working hard. Motorcycle Purchase During Fernando’s college days, he thought about purchasing a motorcycle and with encouragement from his friends, he enthusiastically bought a 1000cc Yamaha Supersport. However, during the last week of his first semester at Pierce while riding northbound on Woodley Avenue near Saticoy Street, a motorist made an abrupt illegal left turn right smack in front of him resulting in Fernando slamming into the vehicle. The next thing Fernando knew, he woke up in the hospital thoroughly bewildered and wondering what happened. His medical team sadly informed him that his vertebrae had snapped and that he was paralyzed from the shoulders down. That was undoubtedly the absolute toughest day of Fernando’s young life and he wished with all his heart he could take back his decision to purchase that motorcycle. Fought Hard with Determination Fernando spent five months in Northridge Hospital healing and rehabilitating as best that he possibly could and as a football player and a Marine he fought hard with determination to maintain a positive attitude. Finally he returned home to his family and he was so pleased to leave that hospital and be with his loving family but they had a two story home that was not wheelchair friendly so their downstairs living room became his bedroom. Fernando made the best of it until February 2006 when he moved to a wheelchair friendly home in Lancaster which he loved though he didn’t like being so far from his hometown, his friends and his family. Fernando was lonely living out in Lancaster, but soon all that would take a dramatic and surprising turn for a much happier life. “Cute Only” It was in August 2007 that Fernando decided to become a member of an international singles dating website named “Cute Only” which he would spend hours browsing everyday. Suddenly, one day an amazing thing happened! A young Russian beauty named Tatiana sent Fernando a message simply saying, hi. Upon one glance at her photo he simply could not respond quickly enough. It turns out that Tatiana lived in southern Russia and while pursuing a law degree she held an incredibly boring job so on a friend’s dare, she applied to become a “Cute Only” member. Obviously, she was accepted. Once she received Fernando’s text response their texting shifted into high gear for the next year and as strange as it may seem they literally fell in love. In July 2008, Fernando purchased Tatiana an airline ticket and visa for her to travel to Tijuana, Mexico, as it was impossible to bring her directly to the United States. Their Love Galvanized Fernando, with his mother, sister and dog tagging along, drove to finally meet Tatiana in person. He rented a beach house at Rosarita Beach where they spent two weeks getting to know each other much more intimately. Their love galvanized at Rosarita resulting in Fernando’s marriage proposal. Tatiana returned to Russia but returned in July the following year and they held a small private wedding July 24, 2009, at Lancaster Courthouse. On their first anniversary, they had a second wedding with Fernando’s entire family present at Saint Junipero Serra Parish in Quartz Hill. These days, Fernando and Tatiana thoroughly enjoy their brand new Santa Clarita home and their son Ivan who turns three years of age this April. For me, it was so refreshing to meet this fine young couple as it was rather overwhelming realizing their passion for each other, their love of America and their strong positive outlook on life. May God continue blessing this wonderful family. . .