Home Depot volunteers rebuild house for vets

Tampa, Florida -- Julie Jones could have spent her day off at the beach. She just moved back to Florida after living in Hawaii so the beach would be an obvious choice.

Instead, she grabbed a paint brush.

"I think I'm going to be a pro after today," she said with a chuckle. "I think I've gone through two gallons myself."

Jones joined nearly 60 of her Home Depot colleagues renovating a home for veterans they've never met. Jones' brother is active-duty in the military and her grandfather served as well. Doing something selfless for those who put their lives on the line for this nation seems like the right thing for her to do.

"If you saw this place 4 months ago it'd be night and day," said Home Depot store manager Frank Essex, who helped rebuild the house with the help of his two daughters.

The home is part of a project put on by the Abilities Foundation. They teamed up with Home Depot resulting in a community reintegration program for veterans with traumatic brain injuries.

The house got new landscaping, new appliances, ceiling fans, wheelchair ramps, garden beds and a concrete deck. This project will be funded through an $11,000 grant from The Home Depot Foundation.

The ABIL (Acquired Brain Injury Life) House mission is to promote self-sufficiency and ensure community re-integration for veterans and others living with brain injuries.

"It's gratifying knowing you put in a good days work," said Abilities Foundation President & CEO, Frank De Lucia. "Our veterans who served us valiantly and did so much to ensure our many freedoms are the ultimate beneficiaries and that means a lot."

Veterans will not live at the ABILHouse but will be able to use it for reintegration needs such as help finding jobs, establishing a routine and dealing with the sometimes difficult process of acclimating with a civilian lifestyle.

"This is a vital service," said De Lucia. "Military veterans who return from combat with brain injuries are not the same service members who entered the war, and the world they return to is not the same one they left. Many are stressed from multiple deployments, feel alienated and detached from families, and face grueling rehabilitation to restore physical and mental capacities."

Since 2001, The Home Depot Foundation has invested more than $65 million to provide safe housing for veterans.

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