Valley Soldier Rewarded For Service

May 19, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A local soldier who recently returned from Iraq received a hero's welcome and a life-changing gift in his hometown of Chowchilla.Sergeant Paul Bedolla has been spending every possible moment with his wife and two children since returning from Iraq earlier this month. "I'm coaching T-ball, I'm taking my son out, we go to the movies, do anything to spend time right now."

The army reservist and former marine has served three tours in the Middle East. And like all servicemen and women, he and his family have made many sacrifices along the way.

Jodi Bedolla, Paul's wife, says "Just him not being here. Taking care of the kids, not having his presence, not knowing where he is all the time is kind of scary."

The Bedolla family has also paid the price that comes with losing a civilian salary in exchange for reservist pay. "For those with government jobs it's a smooth transition. But for independent contractors or employers, like myself, it impacts in that your income goes from much higher to much lower income," says Paul.

As a result, the Bedolla's had to sell their house during his first deployment. Then shortly after they bought a new home, Paul was called to serve again.

"This last deployment we actually ended up having our house foreclosed because we just really couldn't afford it," says Jodi.

But now those financial struggles may finally be over. The mortgage company Bedolla works for has decided to make him part owner.

Tom DuBuose, business partner, says "We wanted to make sure he was part of the company for as long as he ever wanted to be."

Bedolla's new partners say it's a title he deserves not only for his service overseas but also for the impact he's had on the company here at home.

"I couldn't believe it. When they told me, I couldn't be more appreciative of the fact that I have friends and employers that were that supportive of me," says Paul.


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