Local News

Vets volunteer to help their own

Posted March 10, 2012 4:47 p.m. EST
Updated March 10, 2012 10:47 p.m. EST

— Members of the military are known for their sacrifice. They are called our service men and women. A group based in Fuquay-Varina is taking that service one step further, providing volunteer labor to fellow veterans to assure that they can live independently.

Military Missions in Action operates without any government funding to modify homes for veterans disabled by injury or age.

On Saturday, Brian Clark was among those working at the home of Gene Hollenbeck, building a new deck and ramp, painting and fixing the roof.

Hollenbeck, a Marine who served in Korea, had a heart attack in October. He's lived in the house for more than 30 years, but can no longer do the work of upgrades. "The doctor told me 'Do nothing physical,'" he said.

Clark, an Army veteran, and the others are happy to lend their strength where Hollenbeck can't. Although they come from different generations and served in different branches of the military, there is a special bond between the men.

"Anyone who served our country in any branch of the service, we do feel a bond as veterans," Clark said.

Bill Pleasants, who was in the Navy from 1961 to 1965, says the payback for his volunteer work goes beyond money.

"I get a reward you can't explain," he said.

Mike Dorman, founder of MMIA, said the organization has seven pending projects that will cost an estimated $49,000. They are also planning to participate in the Vietnam Veterans Homecoming Celebration 2012 March 31 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

"When the call first went out about helping other vets, our first response was from our Vietnam vets. They were the first ones to step up and help," Dorman said.