She went back to hell twice and came back alive. But a chunk of that battlefield still burns inside her mind. In spite of that, she holds together, protects and loves her family, as she navigates through the deep scars of war.
Rosa Ibarra-Mesta was born a warrior and continues to be one. That’s why she had the courage to ask for help. Help that she deserves, and help that she received from an army of volunteers from HomeStrong USA, State Farm and Team Depot, who reinforced her home as a powerful THANK YOU, and as an external symbol that things can also be improved in the other aspects of her life.
Born and raised in Colton, CA, Rosa, now a 45-year-old veteran, always knew that she wanted to jump out of planes. Her childhood dream was to join the military and serve our country following the steps of her dad, who served in the U.S. Army, and her grandfather, who was a Master Sergeant in the US Air Force who served in WWII, the Korean War and Vietnam. At 16, Rosa had a daughter, and waited until she turned 5 before joining the U.S. Army, “to give her a better life and future.” Once in the service, Rosa was deployed twice to Iraq, where she was in the frontlines as a mechanic, riding a recovery truck as part of convoys.
“I had a lot of close calls but wouldn’t change it for the world,” she says, adding, as tears roll down her face: “I learned to love my country and take pride in the Flag and what it stands for. I learned and gained knowledge, respect, integrity, honor and respect for all. I learned not to quit but to keep moving forward no matter the pain.”
But the price she paid to serve her country was high.
Rosa came back with a long list of physical and mental wounds: rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, Calcium Pyrophosphate Deposition Disease (CPPD), autonomic neuropathy, severe PTSD, social anxiety and insomnia. Her physical and internal damage make it impossible for her to have a job.
Aside from her list of health issues, there’s another list that worries Rosa: the problems with her home, where she lives with her sister and 5 children.
The house needed a lot of work, in part, after being taken advantage of by unscrupulous contractors. Her dream home was left with flooring and roofing that were not installed or repaired correctly and the contractors who were responsible for those jobs never came back to fix the problems.
With her funds depleted and with a house full of health and safety hazards, Rosa felt she had lost a war at home.
But here’s where we came in.
Part of Rosa’s struggles ended, when a team of volunteers completed a comprehensive list of repairs including: sub-floor and flooring replacement, electrical work, plumbing, roofing, fencing of the front yard and clean up of the back yard. The mission is part of HomeStrong’s Heroes Home Repair Program, funded by State Farm. Team Depot, The Home Depot’s associate-led volunteer force, also assisted.
“We are honored to help Rosa and her family,” stated Greg O’Donnell, Program Director at HomeStrong USA. “With the help from State Farm and Team Depot, Rosa will now have the safe and healthy home she deserves.”
“The work that is being done here is a blessing beyond words. It’s like everything I did in Iraq and all the sacrifices I made are appreciated,” stated the brave soldier and single mom. “By doing this work you are honoring all veterans and everyone that served before me. “Without the hearts of all of you none this would be possible.” Even with all that her body has suffered and after experiencing the death of her nephew, who died during a deployment to Germany, Rosa boldly concludes: “I would do it all over again.”