U.S. Veterans and Their Families Deserve the Best We Can Give Them

No one deserves a home more than U.S. veterans. After all, they left the comfort of their homes to risk their lives while serving our country.

That’s the philosophy behind Building Homes for Heroes. This national, non-profit group was founded in 2006.

The initiative is committed to supporting the brave men and women injured while serving during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The group builds or modifies homes. Then they give these homes, mortgage-free, to veterans and their families. The goal for 2019 is to give 33 homes.

Building Homes for Heroes

The project was started by CEO and founder Andy Pujol. He teamed up with a neighbor to build one home for a severely injured veteran.

They raised funds, put together a team, and built the home in a year. His neighbor was in the construction business, but they still faced many challenges during the project.

Over time, they refined the process. They also brought in more volunteers and made better and better homes customized for veterans’ needs.

At each “homecoming ceremony,” the veteran and his or her family receive a grand welcome. It comes from the community, military members and first responders.

The Goal Is 300 Homes

Chad Gottlieb is the head contractor of Building Homes for Heroes. He said, “The chance to give back to those who have given so much to this country is incredible. Each and every ceremony never gets old.”

So far, the group has built more than 170 homes. The overall goal is 300 homes by 2022.

The small team Pujol put together does not take a salary. And now they are adding other programs. Such as financial planning services, family funding and emergency support.

Pujol said he received his “calling” for this group on September 11, 2001. That’s when he drove to New York City to deliver supplies after the Twin Towers fell.

Putting Off Retirement to Serve

There are countless ways American’s choose to show appreciation for veterans. From small groups banding together to make homes, to even just a single individual sharing appreciation for his fellow men in arms. There is no stopping American honor and pride.

So if anybody deserves to take it easy during retirement, it’s Navy veteran Keith Sherman. After serving his country for 26 years, he retired late last year as a senior chief petty officer. During his service, he supported SEAL and Special Warfare teams.

He had planned to enter a three-month inpatient treatment program for PTSD. An MRI revealed he has 12 traumatic brain injury-related lesions.

But after watching so many of his fellow soldiers die in combat, he decided to devote some of his retirement telling theirs and others’ stories.

Gold Star Dirt Is Quite a Story

Sherman determined to do this through the voices of Gold Star families who have lost loved ones in military service. For them, he said, “The grief never ends.”

His initiative started by driving to the hometowns of fallen service members with whom he had served. That way he could share stories with family members they might not have yet heard.

But his project quickly expanded. He has now traveled to 43 states. He has gathered stories and tributes of those families’ loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Sherman even started up a nonprofit group to help the program grow. It’s called Gold Star Dirt.

Now the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. is interested in the stories Sherman has collected. Eventually the stories will be available to the public online.

Threescore and 10

The average human lifespan in the world is roughly threescore and 10, to quote a famous book. In other words, about 70 years.

Actually, according to the most recent United Nations World Population Prospects report, it’s 71.1 years. That’s about 70 years for men and 72 for women.

Regardless, one U.S. citizen who has outlived all predictions is World War II veteran Lawrence Brooks. He recently rejoiced in his 110th birthday in Louisiana. He is considered to be the nation’s oldest living World War II vet.

Brooks was honored on the occasion of his September 12th birthday at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

Happy Birthday, Lawrence

During the war, he served in the 91st Engineer Battalion, primarily an African-American unit of the U.S. Army. He was stationed in New Guinea and the Philippines.

Brooks served his country between 1940 and 1945. He attained the rank of Private 1st Class. The museum has been honoring Brooks’ birthday since his 105th.

Peter Crean is the museum vice president. He said, “We’ve told him, ‘As long as you keep having birthdays, we are going to keep having birthday parties for you here.'”

Brooks said, “I’ve started to think about not having many birthdays left. But I’m not worried about it… God has let me live this long already.”

Honor Those Who Have Served

In the United States, there are millions of men and women who serve or have served in the military from all walks of life. Some were drafted, others volunteered. If they survived, they came home.

But it is our responsibility as Americans to show our veterans that they are truly not forgotten and that they are always appreciated.

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