(Anne Eller, WLMA in Greenwood contributed to this report)
An non-profit organization founded in 2004 shares their strong commitment to helping those who have returned home from war with serious disabilities and injuries. “Homes for our Troops” has made it their job to assist in the building process of homes that provide more freedom of movement and independence for the disabled veteran.
The homes which are provided by “Homes for Our Troops” are given at no cost to the Veterans.
Jessie Martin of Abbeville is a veteran and one of the contractors donating his time to build a house outside of Seneca. He says it’s important that they preserve the soldier’s dignity, like in the story-made-into-a-movie of Sergeant York:
Each one of us in the military have a story and if you see someone who was in the military, ask them. You’ll find out that they have a story whether it was peace time of war-time. When he came back from the war, the state of Tennessee bought his property and a house, and they did something for him, and he was very appreciative of it. But it was done in such a way that he was able to keep his dignity. And that’s the way I like to see of what we’re doing here, is we’re keeping these soldier’s dignity in tact. It’s not a charity, we’re helping do something back for them.
John Gonsalves, President and Founder of “Homes for our Troops” says he is a construction contractor who sought out a program like this and found none.
And, I was really dismayed to find out that this was not being addressed. If we have men and women who are fighting around the world and they come home and their injuries are such that the home that most of us relate to is not something that they can live in, we really need to step up and do something about it and make sure as Americans we give back.
Gonsalves says without the free help of contractors, this could not happen:
You know, unfortunately right now, we’ve been trying to work with government leaders, there is especially adapted housing grant that the VA offers, but the maximum amount of the grant is only $63,000. So, it really falls far short when you’re thinking about specially adapted homes and the additional time and cost and everything, to really make sure that these homes are what’s needed.
The program is building a home in Seneca near Lake Keowee for a marine who suffered serious spinal injuries in Iraq.
Gonsalves says the organization helps assist in the coordination as well as additional purchases required when building the home.
We work with the VA, and we cover all the cost above the specially adapted housing grant that’s offered. But I think what’s so important here that would be missed, is if it wasn’t the American public stepping up. And I think there’s a level of gratitude that the men and women who’ve been wounded feel when they see hundred and hundreds of people in the community come out to say thank you, people who they’ve never met.
The homes provided by “Homes for Our Troops” are given at no cost to the Veterans who meet eligibility requirements. For more detail visit their website.