LANSING, Mich. — Summer was hot in Michigan’s capital city of Lansing, but U.S. Navy veteran Robert Sharon spent much of it stressed about the looming winter months.
His roof — or what was left of it — had big problems. As a result, other parts of Sharon’s house like the kitchen, dining room and bathroom were damaged by water. Another long, cold Michigan winter would not be easy.
A fix, however, was not so simple. Living on a fixed income, the 84-year-old couldn’t afford repairs, let alone a new roof. The U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs was a dead end, too.
Sharon turned to Habitat for Humanity for help — and got it when the organization paired him with local contractors Home Pro Roofing and 100% Seamless Gutters. They, along with Owens Corning and ABC Supply Co. Inc., all donated time and materials for a new roof.
“I can’t believe it,” Sharon, who served in the Korean War, told Roofing Contractor. “I have no words to describe how grateful I am. There is a God.”
The project at Robert “Frenchie” Sharon’s house is among dozens of similar projects involving contractors and suppliers that happen year-round across the U.S.
The situations are similar: Contractors donate time and labor; suppliers contribute materials — and everyone feels better having helped a veteran in need.
And they don’t wait until Nov. 11, Veterans Day, to do it.
“We get that good, warm feeling of doing something good,” said Joe Ray Barry, project manager, Home Pro Roofing, which also offers discounts to veterans. “We try to do what we can because without these guys (veterans) doing what they did, we wouldn’t be here working.”
The Need for Help
It’s impossible to put an exact number on how many projects are done for veterans, but reports from across the U.S. — usually from local TV stations and newspapers — show just how often it occurs. Consider some of the projects just this year:
Conroe, Texas-based Lessman Roofing and Sheet Metal and Spec Building Materials replaced the roof of a home owned by a 71-year-old blind Vietnam War veteran.
Ft. Myers, Fla.-based Crown Roofing and Proquest Cooling Systems teamed up to donate a roof and air conditioner to World War II veteran Ralph Hauser, a 93-year-old U.S. Navy veteran.
In Machesney Park, Ill., Super Pride Inc., a nonprofit that helps veterans, the Home Depot Foundation, and Cross Country Construction teamed up to replace a roof for a 66-year-old Marine Corps veteran who was reportedly facing eviction for not having a roof up to city code.
In Middleton, Idaho, Lafever Roofing, along with the Home Depot Foundation, Team Rubicon (a disaster relief organization), and the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals, replaced the roof of a house owned by Vietnam War veteran Charlie Moore, recipient of two Purple Hearts.
Jackson Electric Membership Corp., Sunrise Roofing & Construction LLC of Auburn, Ga., and ABC Supply Co. of Athens, teamed up to provide a new roof for a Vietnam War veteran living in Hall County, Ga.
Many veterans received assistance from Rebuilding Together, a leading national nonprofit organization with a mission to repair the homes of people in need across the country. During its annual National Rebuilding Month last April, more than 33,000 volunteers served in nearly 1,500 affiliate-led rebuild projects throughout the country, officials said in a news release.
Total Pro Roofing, of Grayson, Ga., started a Free Roofs for Troops program in 2016 to give back to veterans of the U. S. military. It provides free roof replacements for those in need by using a portion of the profits on every paid install.
Earlier this year, the company replaced a roof for SPC Charles Mathis, a veteran who served in the U.S. Army during Operation Desert Storm.
“Total Pro Roofing’s goal is to replace roofs for veterans several times a year and even more frequently as the future allows,” said Owner Jason Carver. “As a private company providing this service, this program is entirely self-funded. Total Pro Roofing is grateful to the customers, the partnership with Active Heroes, a nonprofit organization geared towards veteran suicide prevention, and all who have helped put Total Pro Roofing in the position to give back.”
Suppliers Do Their Part
Of course, none of it would be possible without suppliers stepping up.
“I come from a military family so it certainly hits home to me personally,” said Kris Abernathy, branch manager, of ABC Supply’s Lansing store. Abernathy was onsite when Home Pro replaced Robert Sharon’s roof.
“ABC stands for American Builders and Contractors Supply Co…we’re honored to be part of something like this and take care of the folks who took care of us,” he said.
Owens Corning Roofing, through its Roof Deployment Project, also puts a significant effort into helping veterans.
Launched in early 2016, the Roof Deployment Project matches its network of independent Platinum Preferred Contractors with military families to deliver and install a free, new roof.
The program has helped 87 veterans like Robert Sharon nationwide since inception. It’s growing, too — the program helped 34 veterans in 2017, and for 2018, is targeting 55.
“At Owens Corning, one of our key areas of giving is safe efficient housing for people in need. Through the Roof Deployment Project, we make a life-changing difference to veterans across the country with the support of our Platinum Preferred Contractors. Helping those who have sacrificed for us makes it extremely worthwhile,” said Don Rettig, director, community affairs, Owens Corning.
Consider some of the other Roof Deployment Projects:
Lansing, Mich.-based Palmer Construction and Habitat for Humanity — Capital Region provided a roof for World War II veteran Augie Solid.
Corpus Christi, Texas-based Texas State Roofing Co. and Purple Heart Homes of Statesville, N.C., teamed up to repair the roof of Vietnam War veteran Alfred Shelton, a Corpus Christi resident whose home was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey.
San Diego, Calif.-based Semper Solaris worked with partners on two projects: one to install a new roof for disabled veteran Carl Schaffrina, a resident of El Cajon, Calif., and another to help veteran Marine Corps sniper Povas Miknaitis.
Suwanee, Ga.-based Kaiser Siding & Roofing L.L.C. and Habitat for Humanity of Charlotte provided a new roof for U.S. Army veteran Billy Bradley, a resident of Charlotte, N.C.
“A new roof can be a huge ticket item for our customers, so we understand the importance of giving them peace of mind by providing them with the best work in the business,” said Scott Kaiser and Michael Kaiser, co-owners of Kaiser Siding & Roofing, in a release. “That’s always been our mission since we started Kaiser Siding & Roofing more than 30 years ago.”
Dave Sbraccia, senior area sales manager, Great Lakes Region, Owens Corning Sales LLC, was onsite when Robert Sharon received his new roof in September. Sbraccia chatted with Sharon and the others involved in the project while rooftop work was underway. Smiles could be found aplenty.
“It’s a truly collaborative effort to give back to our veterans,” said Sbraccia. “When you look at the time away from home that they’ve spent, the sacrifices they make…you can’t help but really look at giving back when you can.”
Going the Distance for Veterans
Contractors and suppliers help veterans in other ways, too.
Joplin, Mo.-based TAMKO Building Products Inc. has provided financial and flight support for Honor Flight trips through Central Missouri Honor Flight, one of the 131 hubs in the national Honor Flight Network that operates in 46 states throughout the U.S.
The Honor Flight Network helps transport America’s veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifice. Since the inception of the Honor Flight Network in 2005, more than 200,000 veterans have been flown to their memorials, at no cost to the veterans. Currently, more than 35,000 veterans remain on a flight wait list.
“As a company, we’ve been transporting wounded veterans and their families through the Veterans Airlift Command Hero Flights program for more than a decade now,” said TAMKO President and CEO David Humphreys. “And, we hire veterans. In fact, more than 12 percent of our workforce has a military service background.”
TAMKO also provides annual support and volunteers for the Field of Honor event in Frederick, Md., a tribute honoring those who died serving their country and a fundraiser to support men and women returning home from combat. TAMKO also recently donated building materials to a Homes for Heroes project in Colorado benefitting Sgt. Kristie Ennis, a Marine Corps veteran seriously injured while serving in Afghanistan in 2012.
“Veterans protect our freedoms and all that we love in America, which is why TAMKO, a company proudly based in the heartland…is dedicated to continually honoring veterans,” said Humphreys.
In early August, Atlas Roofing Corp. helped kick off the second phase of a partnership with Veterans Community Project (VCP), a Kansas City-based nonprofit working to eliminate veteran homelessness through transitional housing and social services.
The partnership primarily is focused on continuing build-out of the Veterans Housing Village in Kansas City — a specialized community of 50 tiny homes that provides transitional housing and addresses the underlying cause of veteran homelessness.
The VCP is on a mission to eliminate veteran homelessness by providing transitional-housing and enabling access to “exceptional 360-degree service solutions.”
Focusing first on the greater-Kansas City area, VCP aspires to use Kansas City as the blueprint for achieving similar successes in cities across the United States. VCP has a long-term goal of eliminating Veteran homelessness nationwide. VCP is a 501(c)(3) Missouri nonprofit founded by Kansas City veterans who were frustrated by rampant homelessness throughout the veteran community.
For its role in the project, Atlas is collaborating with key partners and volunteers to provide specialized services and on-site contractor support. Partners, including ABC Supply Co. and JR Roofing, will be donating time and/or services for the construction.
The first phase of the Veterans Community Project began last year.
Phase two of the project officially began with the Atlas Build Day, held Aug. 8. Planning for phase three is underway.
Officials say the addition will make more room for homeless veterans, where they can seek rehabilitation, job assistance services, and support from their peers in a safe environment.
“Our partnership with Atlas Roofing has been instrumental in the successful completion of our first veteran village development,” said Brandon Mixon, co-founder and chief project officer at VCP.