Wounded Troops Get Help Rebuilding Lives

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 20, 2007 - A charitable group in Washington state has made it its goal to create warm, safe and accessible homes for injured veterans.

The "Heroes at Home" program aims to help military families and veterans remain in the homes they own and the communities in which they live and contribute to, said Becky Carter, program manager of veterans housing for the Washington-based group "Rebuilding Together."

The program is a charitable partnership between Rebuilding Together, a national volunteer home-rehabilitation organization, and Sears Holdings Corporation, the parent company of Sears and Kmart stores.

Through the Heroes at Home program, Rebuilding Together and Sears Holdings are working to improve the lives of military families in need across America. Help comes in the form necessary repairs, improvements or modifications to these families' homes at no cost to them.

Army Spc. Ryan C. Major, 21, of Silver Spring, Md., was the first beneficiary of Heroes to Home, Carter said. "Ryan is currently recovering from severe wounds he received when a (roadside bomb) detonated while he was on patrol in Iraq," she said.

The blast, which occurred near Ramadi, cost Major both legs. It also caused a traumatic brain injury and damage to both arms, Carter said. With help from local volunteers, Heroes at Home was able to equip the young soldier's home with a wheelchair-accessible bedroom and bathroom and an elevator. The renovations were completed in mid-July.

While the improvements to veterans' homes cost the veterans nothing, there ultimately is a price tag attached for the program. Sears Holdings Corporation's efforts have helped defray those costs, however.

"Sears and Kmart customers and associates had the opportunity to support military families and veterans via an in-store and online campaign," Carter said.

Between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July this year, Sears Holdings raised $1.3 million for Heroes at Home. A similar effort is planned for later this year.

Rebuilding Together operates another similar program for injured veterans called "Serving Those Who Serve."

The group recently became supporters of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and corporations with military personnel and their families serving at home and abroad.

Carter said the group anticipates greater exposure because of its affiliation with America Supports You.

"We anticipate several things, (including) exposure for Homes to Heroes and the opportunity to generate support for the program and the people we serve," she said. "Networking opportunities ... also will allow us to build our network and assist more families and veterans, in addition to raising awareness for the program and generating additional monetary support."

For each dollar donated to the Heroes to Home program, Rebuilding Together can achieve $4 worth of work through volunteer labor and contractor-donated time, Carter added.
America Supports You: Wounded Troops Get Help Rebuilding Lives [ ]