A new layer of paint, changing windows and doors or various repairs in the home are able to revitalize the mood of war veterans and the communities in which they live, and all thanks to the program Heroes at Home (Heroes at Home) .

“Their entire life changes, now they can invite people to their homes, with a safe environment,” Caroline Blakley, president of the nonprofit organization Rebuilding Together, which since 2011 has helped repair, told Efe today. more than 1,700 homes of American ex-combatants. This Tuesday was the turn of Leonard and Ronald, two veterans of Miami Gardens (north of Miami) who have seen 75 volunteers “invading” their houses to repair the roof, replace windows, doors, cabinets and appliances.

Also to improve the accessibility of the property, something that Ronald, 57 years old and veteran of the naval force, will do very well because he suffers a disability. His home still suffers the damage of Hurricane Irma, which devastated part of South Florida last year. “The project has been huge, a great help, but I have family and friends who need help like this, sometimes problems and illness come home and it’s not easy to get through everything, although with this help it’s possible,” says Ronald. who was between ships from 1991 to 1996. It is a time that he remembers with pride and that allowed him to later study computer science.

The same gratitude is felt by Leonard, 84, who served in the armed forces during the Korean War and since 32 lives with his grandson in Miami Gardens, after retired. “I feel very well, they could not have come at a better time, because I could not do it on my own,” says Leonard from outside his house, under a cap reminiscent of who he is: “Veteran of Korea”. While he sees how dozens of volunteers from the Sears company, who drives the program with Rebuilding Together, scamper around his house looking for more paint and a fan, he laments the situation experienced by many veterans.

“They have to help them more, there are many who do not receive any help, we are all brothers, we gave our lives, the young people who took our places, too,” explains Leonard. The goal of the “Heroes at Home” program is for veterans to stay in their homes as long as possible, between reliable walls, especially older ones. Their income is often insufficient to repair basic household items.

“It’s our way of giving them back what they gave us, what they need to keep them in the neighborhood,” the program’s director explains while regretting that older veterans are often “forgotten.” With 84 years, Leonard loves to cook, something that with the impoverished that was his kitchen could not do in good conditions. “Now I can cook for and with my grandson,” he celebrates. Then he confesses to having had a serious problem with the termites, but he does not stop looking forward to the improvements in his kitchen.

One of those responsible was Hilda Zagán, who arrived after seven in the morning and did not stop replacing and painting for hours. “It is a pity that people like him, who have struggled with our country, do not receive aid, so (Leonard) is humbly delighted,” says Zagán. Other volunteers are the former football player Kurt Warner, who came to Leonard’s house with his wife Brenda, a former member of the naval force. “We are very busy, like everyone else, but if you find the time is very rewarding,” said Brenda Warner.

In the same way, he joined the demands in favor of the war veterans, a topic that he knows personally. “They have given a lot, I wish the United States would do more for them, many people are in this situation and the country can and should do better,” the woman added with her hands sprinkled with paint. Larry Costello, director of Sears Holding, a company that employs thousands of American veterans and since 2007 has helped raise more than $ 23 million for the program, says there is a “need” throughout the country. Silicon Valley (California), Chicago (Illinois), The Bronx of New York or Baltimore, in Maryland, are some of the locations where since the beginning of the year “Heroes at home” has passed its paint roller, 43 homes in total this year .

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