Turning a house into a home Gulf War vet makes new friends, gets major home repairs
by SPECIAL TO THE PATRIOT
WARNER ROBINS - Don Hatton is a man who loves his country and his family, and recently he’s found good reason to love his adopted hometown, where a big team of volunteers recently came together to make his home both safe and comfortable with major repairs.
The project, underwritten by the Sears Heroes at Home program for veterans, and carried out with teamwork from over 30 volunteers and contractors from Warner Robins Rebuilding Together, included providing Hatton, his wife and daughters with a new roof, a heating and air conditioning unit, electrical panel replacement, plumbing repairs including a sewer line replacement, new patio doors and exterior housing painting. Rebuilding Together’s volunteer House Captain Billy Schwanebeck, III. headed the project. Richard Moore was the General Contractor.
“Rebuilding Together did more than just slap a little paint on an old home,” Hatton wrote in a thank you note. “You gave a new level of peace, health and happiness to an already love-filled family.
There’s no question that Donald Hatton has served his country valiantly before hard times hit. He is a US Navy disabled veteran of three of the Gulf War Operations, having served in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm, Operation Desert Shield and Operation Provide Comfort, between the years of 1981 and 1992. As reward for his service he has been given several awards, commendations and medals to include Meritorious Unit Commendation (twice), National Defense Service medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (Fourth), Southwest Asia Service Metal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Coast Guard Special Operations Ribbons, Navy and Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon and more.
He is permanently disabled as a result of that service. His disabilities include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, hearing loss and vision problems, and he suffers from chronic pain.
His wife, Jessica sums up his determination to provide for his family this way, "My husband, a Gulf War Vet, has given of himself in ways very few of us can truly understand without having served in the military during wartime. The effect that the aftermath can have on our veterans is hard and scary at times. It is truly heartbreaking for me to see him trying so hard to make his mind and body work just to bring a couple dollars to our family."
Despite his efforts, his family spent a whole winter with no heating, and his struggle with the insurmountable cost of the housing repairs led him to Warner Robins City Hall, where he learned about Rebuilding Together, a volunteer organization that is part of a nationwide effort to renovate and improve homes so that families can continue to live in them.
He qualified also for the Heroes at Home program run by Sears which provides support to service members, veterans and their families. Sears Holdings spearheaded nationwide fundraising efforts over the past year and has raised more than $16 million through Heroes at Home for several military programs. Heroes at Home has helped hundreds of military families across America.
At the completion of the project that made his family’s home safe and comfortable, Hatton wrote a touching letter to Jerome Stephens, President of Rebuilding Together, “Please accept our most heartfelt thanks for all the improvements and repairs on our home. The need was great and the impact it has had on our family is truly immeasurable. Knowing that groups like Rebuilding Together are there warms my heart.”
Hatton also wrote about the emotional impact on his family of the work undertaken by the volunteers.
“We are actually comfortable in our home, able to focus on something other than wiping sweat from our brows,” he wrote. “Our children’s grades and schoolwork improved, as they sleep more comfortably. I no longer have to worry about an ineffective an problematic fuse panel.”
Also he is able to sleep better, which has helped with his chronic pain.
But mostly, he says, his safer, more comfortable home means his family is happier.
“My family, prior to these repairs, was always a little on edge, and moodiness was a common. Although we didn’t even notice it until afterwards, the stress actually affected all of us on a subconscious level. Now I notice our family working better together, I hear the laughter of my wife and children much more frequently. Most people would say that little things are just “things”, and have no real impact on the happiness of a family. I assure you, they are wrong. I wipe true tears of joy from my eyes as I write this.”
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who build his house on the rock.The rain came down,the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house;yet it did not fall,because it had its foundation on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25