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Military community, Home Depot come together to help elderly vet

On the morning of August 5th, MVRC Veterans Services Specialist Dan Dunaway pulled up to Edward Johnson’s* Hamilton home with six volunteers, a Home Depot plumber and a hot water tank in tow. It had been several weeks since the home had water, and for the Johnsons, the large crew was a welcome sight.

“They were elated,” said Dunaway.

When his hot water tank failed in July, Edward started calling around to get a quote. He was anticipating a high cost, but when every retailer quoted a price of $1000 or more for a new water heater plus the labor of installing it, he knew he needed help. As a senior citizen and disabled Air Force veteran living on a fixed income, that price was more than he could afford.

Edward visited several places for assistance before being referred to Military Veterans Resource Center.

“When Edward came in and shared his story, I knew we needed to act quickly because he had his wife and two small granddaughters also in the household,” said Dunaway. “MVRC had just been approved for a Home Depot grant to help veterans in Butler County with home repairs, and everything just fell into place. Because we had Home Depot’s help, we were able to move quickly.”

As soon as the funds were taken care of, Dunaway wasted no time contacting volunteers.

“I called Danny Mayo, one of the veterans I’ve been working with who is also a master plumber,” said Dunaway.

Mayo came into MVRC in July for the Operation: Tools for School program to get school supply assistance for his kids. Dunaway has since been helping Mayo search for better employment opportunities, and when this project came up, he reached out to Mayo and asked him to supervise.

In addition, Dunaway reached out to the 478th Engineer Battalion, which supplied the majority of the volunteer group.

Michael Kettlehacke (478th), Levi Scott (478th), Sgt. Adam Gray (478th), Mike Kidd (veteran volunteer), Danny Mayo (master plumber, veteran), 1st Sgt. Durwin Edwards (478th)

Dunaway and the 478th began working together over a year ago when Sgt. Adam Gray came to Military Veterans Resource Center searching for assistance for his young troops. Dunaway started helping the service members work on their resumes and find job placements, and Sgt. Gray and his troops have been helping Dunaway with volunteer projects ever since.

“I told the unit what was going on and they responded. Everybody who was there wanted to be there. A few of the guys made a two hour drive to come out and help” said Sgt. Gray, who coordinated the volunteers from his unit.

Sgt. Gray and his troops get ready to unload the hot water tank. Veteran Danny Mayo (L) installs the hot water tank.

Within four hours, the hot water tank was installed and running, and for the first time in a month the Johnsons breathed a sigh of relief.

“I get tremendous support here,” said Dunaway. “Because of volunteers like Sgt. Gray and his troops, as well as organizations like Home Depot, we’re able to get veterans the assistance they need. It’s great to see our military and the local community come together for our veteran families.”

*Name has been changed.