GREENSBORO, N.C. -- This Veterans Day, a Yadkinville native and former U.S. marine--Sgt. Nathan Harris--will get the keys to his soon-to-be permanent Purple Heart Home in Greensboro. Hundreds of volunteers and employees from the Crescent Rotary Club, Home Depot, TIMCO and Salvation Army teamed up to fully renovate the house in time for Veterans Day.
At a 1:30 p.m. ceremony, participating partners, the community and the Color Guard will welcome Sgt. Harris into his new residence.
Harris was 25 years old when he was on the front lines in Afghanistan during a major helicopter assault on a Taliban stronghold. Severely wounded from a machine gun, he has said he has made a difficult physical and emotional transition back into civilian life. Both before and after deployment, he did not have a permanent home. The documentary "Hell and Back Again" details his journey both in Afghanistan and after he returned to North Carolina.
Founded by North Carolina veterans, the Purple Heart Homes foundation is responsible for renovating veterans' homes like Harris's across North Carolina. The local Crescent Rotary Club reached out to the Purple Heart Home foundation after it decided to focus its special 50th anniversary project on giving back to local heroes.
Crescent Rotary Club president Brian Sowers said the project of renovating the home for Harris is personal for him. He and his son are former marines, and he said the best day of his life was when his son came home from overseas.
Sowers has come to know Harris through this project. "Nathan has had a tough go. He underwent, I believe, 10 surgeries, tons of hours of rehab, and he still struggles with a lot of issues. But he is so excited about his home here. He's helped through the process, he's been here, he's helped paint, he's helped motivate the people that are here to help get the job done. I just talked to him the other day--it's like Christmas coming early for him."
Home Depot store manager Don Jebb reaffirms the emotional reward of being a partner in this project. Jebb has helped work on several veterans' homes projects--including Harris's and Homes for our Heroes in Winston-Salem. He said being able to use the team's home-building skill set while giving back to the community is an indescribable feeling of gratification.
Jebb said renovating the home included remodeling the gutted kitchen, installing new cabinets and a new shower, widening door frames, repainting the walls, moving in furniture donated by the Salvation Army and putting in an electric fence for Harris's two dogs.
TIMCO also was a major partner in the project. Avionics lead Keith Zimbro said as a former marine, himself, he has understands the importance of a permanent home's role in the post-deployment recovery process. Zimbro said 50 percent of TIMCO's employees are veterans, and therefore it is vital to the company to be able to conduct projects that give back to the local veteran community.
WFMY News 2 will continue to provide coverage of the 1:30 p.m. ceremony at Harris's home. WFMY News 2 at 11 will be a special newscast devoted to veterans and veterans' issues.
For a full list of Veterans Day activities and discounts and freebies, visit this article.