Tiny Houses As A Cure For A Soldier’s Soul

Tiny Houses As A Cure For A Soldier’s Soul

We received this amazing letter from a soldier that served in Afghanistan. His experience was intense and life changing, not just while on active duty, but also upon his re-entry into his life as a husband, father, and friend. We were so moved by his words that we asked if we could share them here. The soldier has asked that his identity remain anonymous but that we would be welcome to share what he wrote. We hope you get as much out of it as we did. 


AfghanistanI have fallen in love with the idea of a tiny home for many reasons. The main one I would like to share with you. I read the post by the pilot living in Afghanistan. I also went to Afghanistan as a Soldier. My first night we got there we got rocket attacked and then again that night. We arrived during the winter so we ended up taking cover in a bunker in my sleeping clothes in the cold, luckily it was very short. I finally got out to the first of six places that I would be living in.


I lived in an abandoned cannery that had plywood and sheets dividing our sleeping area. We had no running water but we did have electricity. I had one lamp, a bed, my gear a few books and certainly a razor. I moved to a new location only a few weeks in. I lived in a tent that had been divided into living spaces with plywood. It was exactly the length of one twin bed and a little bit shorter in width. I had a sheet for a door. The constant noise was deafening. Our power was supplied by diesel generators. Everywhere you walked there were diesel generators. Always a loud roar. You could never be far enough away from any one of them to be completely quiet. The trucks are also loud.


I ended moving to another location that was pretty remote. The place I stayed in was a windowless plywood building. Just raw plywood rooms and a raw plywood office. The building I was staying in had been attacked previously and my room was filled with bullet holes from a PKM (Russian made crew served machine gun) I slept with my body armor at the head of my bed and my M-4 tucked next to me. This place had artillery and they would fire their big guns at night. The explosion would rattle the building in the early hours of the morning, around 1:00 am. This took some getting used to.

Because of the previous attack the Forward Operating Base (FOB) was a blackout FOB which means there was no light at all. All buildings had to let out zero light. At night it was so dark you couldn’t even walk around without tripping or running into things or people. You can’t use a white light flashlight in this situation.

I would join my men on missions and would be in the turret. I remember seeing a vehicle in front of us role over an IED. We maneuvered to the front when an enemy mortar detonated near us and we could hear machine guns firing. Another vehicle was trying to get away and it rolled over another IED and detonated right in front of us. I remember as this was all happening that I just wanted to be next to my wife. Everyone lived that day. There were other times that I was scared. The sad thing is that I didn’t even have a difficult deployment compared to other Soldiers.

There were times I was scared for my men. I don’t know if you are religious people but I would get a phone call in the middle of the night about what they were doing and I knew how dangerous it was and I would pray for them.

I do remember a week that will be burned in my emotions forever. It was a heavy week which really affected me. I would go out at night and climb on top of the indirect fires bunker and look at the stars. They were so vivid. Really the only completely stunning thing about that country. Still noisy, but stunning.

I finally came home. I wish that everything was just amazing like it is on the welcome home blog. The initial hello is wonderful. But my wife, my children and I had learned to live without each other. My son wouldn’t hug me when I came home. He was little when I left. I came home a little bit more angry, less patient and jumpy. I am a different person because of the deployment. I can’t stand to be in crowds, I tried once to go to a mall. My wife is a different person too. We learned to live with each other as a family all over again.

There are several things that I want out of life that this tiny house represents. I want a quiet piece of land. I just really want quiet. I want a peaceful home and work environment. I need to feel like I have freedom and that I can walk away from work and not be tied down with things.

One great thing that I learned on deployment is that among all the moves all my stuff fit in two bags and a box. And most of that was just gear. I don’t need anything. Just my loving wife, my sweet children and some peace and quiet. Thanks for introducing this to me. If nothing else the hope it offers is amazing. Thank you so much. This is a cure for my soul.

23 Responses to Tiny Houses As A Cure For A Soldier’s Soul

  1. Alex T June 8, 2014 at 9:35 pm #

    Anonymous Soldier,

    I would like to share a program with you, it is called VSAT. Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training. The GI Bill will cover the cost of it. archisacres.com It is in Escondido CA, only a 6 week program. You learn how to manage your own Agriculture business. It will help secure a loan with the Farm Bureau to secure your own land and start your own business. What better way is there to live? Living on a quiet piece of land, growing your own organic food, living in your Tiny home.

    • Gabriella June 9, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

      Thank you so much Alex. I will forward that info to the soldier. Really appreciate it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Shirley June 9, 2014 at 5:51 am #

    Thank you for publishing this. It hit several nerves, things I needed to read about as seen through the eyes of another.

    • Gabriella June 9, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

      I’m glad you ‘got it’ Shirley.

    • Sarah Fortune June 12, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

      I have lived and owned several very nice homes. In the last few years my husband and I decided to down size. We sold our home with all the furniture included. We moved into our 43 foot motorhome. It has been great. A lot less expense and work.
      We learned a long time ago that the more you have is the more you have to do.

  3. hasina June 9, 2014 at 6:58 am #

    I am so taken up by this website realising even more that it is not just about physical tinybuild, but a soulful ‘bigbuild’! Thank you for the inspiration on every count.
    I am a Jamaican living in England and bought a tiny piece of land with intentions to build, when I can find the money. I am fascinated as to how and what I could potentially do with my space. The problem is as I said, finding the finances to do it. It is my dream to build my house and take home my grandchildren and raise them in Jamaica. If I could close my eyes and it was there, I would be the world’s happiest woman. I am now sending up prayers for the help to achieve my dream before I get too infirm to do it.
    I thank God for your showing me how to start and hopefully finish, relax and live out my days back on my birthland.

    • Gabriella June 9, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

      Beautiful Hasina. Please keep us posted on your journey.

  4. Jack June 10, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

    Love this website! Please tell the Soldier that I appreciate his service, especially in wartime, in harms way.

    I noted another article on the website about obtaining home insurance; please tell the soldier and any other veteran that USAA provides insurance for many things, as well as banking, loans for cars and homes, and many other products and services.

    I have been a member since 1975 and they have fantastic service. Other members of my faimly have also been members for even longer!

    Just Google USAA and you can go to their website and get started.

    USAA offers coverage to anyone who has ever served honorably in the US Military.

    Thanks again for your website


    • Gabriella June 12, 2014 at 8:36 am #

      Thanks Jack! It’s kind of you to reach out and let the soldier know about this option. I will forward it to him.

  5. Eric A June 12, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

    Thanks for sharing all of this. Im also a veteran who served in Afghanistan and share a very similar story with similar feelings as this veteran. Im still very new to the tiny house movement, but this story has really helped me realize why im pursuing this path. The idea of having my own quiet little place where I can be stress free is very appealing. And like this soldier mentioned we really learn to live with very little in the military and I think living in this materialistic world is very stressful and burdensome on us and everyone really which probably plays a big part in this movement.

    Thanks again.

  6. Jonathan June 13, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

    Thanks for sharing, What a great story I can relate to what the Soldier is saying. Mr. Soldier – Thank You For Serving…

    “I want a peaceful home and work environment. I need to feel like I have freedom and that I can walk away from work and not be tied down with things.

    I donโ€™t need anything. Just my loving wife, my sweet children and some peace and quiet.”

    When it comes down to the brass tacks, what is it that we really need? Not much, Im in process of thinking that less is more, simple is better. Once again Thank You…

  7. Chris June 16, 2014 at 7:20 am #

    I learned about the tiny house movement about a year ago and haven’t been able to let the idea go since. The possibilities it offers to everyone are amazing. Housing for homeless, seniors, young people in college, newlyweds and those of us right in the thick of it who just want the freedom to do with our days as we see fit.

    I’ve also been very interested in the possibility it offers to vets. As this soldier stated coming back was sweet but not easy. I’m thinking a tiny house in the backyard might make for an easier transition. Like he said they had learned how to live apart. A tiny house on property would allow them to reintegrate in stages etc.

    Another great thing about living tiny!

  8. Bill June 25, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

    Some will never get it. As a veteran, this soldier paints a picture many who served can read and will shake their heads in agreement as they read. Hating crowds, I hear that, little things like facing the door at restaurants. My daughters always thought I was just weird. As I get older, I just want that quiet place my wife and I can grow old together.

    • Gabriella June 25, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

      Thank you for writing Bill. You are totally right, most of us will never get it. It’s basically impossible to really know what you soldiers have been through and so it’s so important that stories like yours and the soldier who shared above get out there. One common ‘theme’ seems to be the heartfelt desire for a quiet, simple life after being on active duty. And this reminds me to slow down and enjoy the quiet and basic things because when taken away, these are the things missed the most. Calm and peace are privileges not afforded to many many people the world over. Thank you for being that reminder for the rest of us that just haven’t quite “gotten” that yet. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Janne Zack June 30, 2014 at 9:57 am #

    I was touched by the Soldier’s story. My son was a Marine Infantry Squad Leader (2/9 Fox Co) who was KIA in Afghanistan in 2010. My heart goes out to these men and women who serve. They truly will never be the same when they come back and not many “get it”. I am a home designer. I would love to help them out. I like the fact that the VA provides training for agriculture, etc. I would love to help those who NEED to live out and away from people. I design tiny houses (like on trailers) but mostly houses on foundations, from the ground up – there are no size limits. I have researched small appliances for tiny living and would love to be put in contact with anyone who may need assistance. I am NOT an architect (we are certified Residential Designers through AIBD) and therefore my costs are quite small and Returning Service Men and Women would receive a MUCH reduced fee out of love and respect for my son’s buddies who DID make it back, but who suffer terribly with adapting to the spoiled lifestyle that is prevalent in America today. Thank You, to those who serve.

    • Kat June 30, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

      I am truly sorry for your loss. Semper Fi.

    • Gabriella June 30, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

      Like Kat mentioned, I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for the work you are doing now. It is vital that support is given to returning soldiers and I am glad that you are able to provide help in this way. I will certainly pass on your information to others.

  10. Kat June 30, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    Ah ha! I just had that “Ah ha” moment I have heard about so much but have never had… I have been obsessed by Tiny houses ever since I saw the first one online. My friends think it cannot be done or that it’s silly – but I am just obsessed! Living in a small space, but able to have beautiful views…Ah….but I never knew what drove me to it – being a Marine for 12 years might have something to do with it, I see now! Thanks, that explains a lot…

    • Gabriella June 30, 2014 at 4:01 pm #

      That is so so interesting Kat. Talk about an “AH HA” moment!! Please keep us posted on your journey.

  11. Tony Wright July 2, 2014 at 8:31 pm #


    Please let this soldier know that I have been receiving benefits from HUD/VASH. Veterans Administration Supportive Housing. They pay everything for my apartment, prior to this I was homeless for over 5 years, in 5 months to the day I was in a decent apt, everything paid for, including deposits and power hook-up. With this arrangement for 1 year, and I can move anywhere in the country, 2 years total VA assistance, and HUD takes over. I wish him and his family peace and love.

    Sometimes the VA pulls thru.

    Tony Wright

    • Gabriella July 6, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

      Thanks Tony!

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