Last month, as part of National Day of Service and Remembrance, communities across the country came together to promote service, as a tribute to the victims, survivors and first responders of the September 11th attacks.
To honor those who have served our nation, cities are partnering with the National League of Cities (NLC), Purple Heart Homes and The Home Depot Foundation to repair and modify the homes of senior veterans with a service-connected disability.
For the second year in a row, as part of Operation Veteran Home Renovation (OVHR), city leaders are working with credit unions, banks, area agencies on aging and local home builder associations to improve the homes of more than twenty veterans.
This year seven cities are participating in OVHR: Pensacola, Florida; Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Tucson, Arizona; Jackson, Mississippi; Hattiesburg, Mississippi; Indianapolis, Indiana; and San Antonio, Texas.
Projects are ongoing in all participating cities, with most projects being completed by Veterans Day, November 12.
Volunteers from Penn Air Federal Credit Union and the U.S. Air Force Flying training squadron worked on the home of Vietnam veteran Jimmy Perkins. Mr. Perkins, now 76 years old, has lived in his home for the last 50 years. After serving in the military, he worked at Baptist Hospital in Pensacola, and later served as a city council member, attending several NLC conferences.
Work on Mr. Perkins’ home included yard cleanup, a new roof and repairs to the floor and car port. Once the yard clean-up was finished, a press conference was held to commemorate 9/11, and the partnership between community stakeholders and the city, and to kick off the three projects being undertaken.
In a brief press conference, Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward was joined by NLC board member and Councilmember P.C. Wu, Carrol Scarborough who is the COO of Pen Air Federal Credit Union, Tim Mangum of Purple Heart Homes and Mr. Perkins. Mr. Perkins remarked, “Like my mama used to tell me, ‘There are blessings out there, you just got to wait on them and I guess today is my day’.”
In Hattiesburg, Mayor Toby Barker recognized the day at a ceremony at the home of Paul Carpenter. Mr. Carpenter served in the U.S. Navy from 1979-1980, and his home was chosen as one of three veterans’ homes to receive renovations. The community partnership includes the city of Hattiesburg; Purple Heart Homes; NLC; Recover, Rebuild, Restore Southeast Mississippi (R3SM); The First – a National Banking Association; The Home Depot Foundation and the Greater Hattiesburg Home Builders Association. This is the second year that the city of Hattiesburg has helped coordinate efforts to repair and renovate aging veterans’ homes.
After being severely damaged by a tornado in January 2017, Mr. Carpenter’s home received a new roof and was weatherized to prevent future damage. Additional support for Mr. Carpenter’s home was provided by the Greater Pinebelt Community Foundation, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community Foundation and Mississippi Conference – United Methodist Church.
Mayor Barker said, “As we pause to reflect on the attacks of 9/11, we remember that the strength of our community and nation is in our collective bond to a spirit of service. I am proud that our city commemorates this anniversary by coming together to honor our veterans in this way.”
More information about Purple Heart Homes and Operation Veteran Home Renovation can be found here.
You can learn more about The Home Depot Foundation and their on-going commitment to veterans here.
About the Author: Domenick Lasorsa is the associate for Veterans and Special Needs at the National League of Cities. He is finishing his master’s degree in public service at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. Follow him on twitter @DomLasorsa.