By Donna Thornton/News Editor
H.O.N.O.R.S. – Housing Our Nation’s Outstanding Returning Soldiers – is an organization that rose from the rubble at Ground Zero.
Charles Vitchers, construction superintendent for the Ground Zero recovery and cleanup efforts after 9/11, and Gordon Haberman, who lost his daughter Andrea Haberman in the terrorist attack at the World Trade Center, co-founded the organization in 2011 as a way to honor the servicemen and women who risk their lives to protect the nation. H.O.N.O.R.S. exists to construct, remodel or adapt existing homes for veterans facing special needs after serving in the military conflicts following 9/11. The work is to be done at low or no cost to the veterans.
The first serviceman selected for an H.O.N.O.R.S.-built adaptive home is Corey Garmon, a Sardis City native seriously injured in an IED attack in Afghanistan last July.
Garmon lost both legs below the knee as a result of the attack, and suffered other injuries as well, and he spent three months at Walter Reed Medical Center for treatment of his injuries. He now lives in adaptive Wounded Warrior apartments near the hospital while undergoing therapy.
Garmon married fiancée Megan Forrester in February 2013 and the couple is expecting their first child, a girl they plan to name Kyleigh Nicole, in September.
“We just wanted to ensure that when Corey and his wife and their daughter come home from his rehabilitation, probably sometime next spring, that they have an actual home to come home to,” Tracey Vitchers, Director of Communication for H.O.N.O.R.S., said.
Vitchers said a local resident heard about Garmon’s story, and reached out to the southeastern director for H.O.N.O.R.S. The organization did some research on Garmon and all that he has overcome since being injured, Vitchers said, and decided he was the perfect choice to be the first recipient of an adaptive home.
Garmon’s story was reported widely last Thanksgiving, when he came home for the first time since being injured. The people of northeast Alabama, especially those in Garmon’s hometown, gave him the welcome a returning hero deserved.
The community is being invited to celebrate with Garmon and his family again July 16, as H.O.N.O.R.S. representatives’ hosts a kick-off celebration at 6:30 p.m. at the Boaz VFW.
To honor Garmon, Vitchers said local veterans and firefighters will present The National 9/11 Flag, rescued by Charles Vitchers during the Ground Zero Recovery and Clean Up Project after 9/11.
The flag, damaged in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, was restored with the help of more than 25,000 Americans who placed their stitch in the flag. The restoration was completed in Breezy Point, NY, and the flag will become a part of the permanent exhibit at the National 9/11 Memorial & Museum.
Those who attend the July event will hear from business owners and community leaders who’ve pledged their support to the building of Garmon’s adaptive home at 6:30 p.m.
At 7 p.m., H.O.N.O.R.S. co-founder and President Charles Vitchers will speak about the foundation’s plan for building Garmon’s home. Garmon, his wife Megan and family and friends are expected to speak also.
At 7:30 p.m., local veterans and firefighters will present The National 9/11 Flag.
At 8 p.m., the foundation will host an organizational meeting with local community leaders, business owners, contractors and private individuals interested in providing financial or in-kind material contributions or support for the home construction. Anyone interested in aiding in the building of the Garmon home should attend the meeting, according to news release from H.O.N.O.R.S.
“The response of the young men and women like Spc. Garmon to the tragedy of 9/11 is truly amazing,” Charles Vitchers said in the news release. “Young service members who, at this time in their lives, could and should have been enjoying the freedom and way of life our forefathers created by signing the Declaration of Independence.
“Rather, they voluntarily enlisted in the United State armed force and suffered physical and mental wounds in their mission to keep their communities safe from terror and harm.
“H.O.N.O.R.S. is proud to serve Spc. Garmon by providing him and his family with an adaptive home where they can grow and continue to serve the community where they live,” Vitchers said.
“On Sept. 11, 2001, my daughter Andrea went to work and was killed in the brutal and cowardly attack on our nation and the freedom American represents to all who seek it,” H.O.N.O.R.S. co-founder Gordon Haberman said.
“And on that day America went to war. Since that fateful day, I am humbled that brave men and women, none who knew my daughter; responded to her death and voluntarily risked their lives in service to protect our country against a relentless enemy that continued to threaten America’s freedoms and way of life,” he continued.
“Corey Garmon responded and has paid a huge price in defense of America and in honor of those killed on Sept. 11, 2001. H.O.N.O.R.S., which also responded from the rubble of Ground Zero, is an organization created to lend a helping hand to those who have paid this terrible price.
“I can think of no one more worthy than young Mr. Garmon to be a recipient of whatever services H.O.N.O.R.S. is able to provide. Assisting Corey and his family to recover and to move forward from the seemingly daunting challenges they will face as a result of his service and sacrifice to our country will truly be an honor,” Haberman said.
To learn more about Spc. Garmon or contribute to the building of Spc. Garmon’s home, visit the website www.honorshousingvets.org or contract Director of Communications Tracey E. Vitchers via telephone 845-699-3879 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.