The Publication of Habitat for Humanity International

Habitat World

Field NotesPerspectives from around Habitat’s world

Reconnecting with the Home Front

Words by Phillip Jordan

Photo by Steffan Hacker

Published on Nov. 23, 2011

One of the intangible benefits of Habitat’s volunteer model is that it allows people to connect with their community — and their neighbors within it — on a level they might never know otherwise. Habitat’s affiliate in Tacoma, Washington, recently found a way to bring that experience to a group of wounded American soldiers looking for a productive way to reconnect with their community.

Through a partnership with Tacoma/ Pierce County Habitat, more than 30 soldiers from a nearby U.S. Army “Warrior Transition Battalion” helped frame and roof a pair of houses. Battalions like the one in Tacoma exist to provide medical care, advocacy and long-term support for soldiers and veterans healing from combat-related injuries, illnesses or post-traumatic stress.

Habitat has a long history, in many countries, of working with soldiers who want to volunteer, or apply to become potential homeowners.

Habitat has a long history, in many countries, of working with soldiers who want to volunteer, or apply to become potential homeowners. Thanks to the success of the Tacoma build, that bond may grow even stronger. Lt. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker, commander of the U.S. Army Medical Command, visited the soldiers on the Washington worksite. “This is an innovative therapy for our wounded warriors that I would like to begin implementing Army-wide,” he told the northwest Guardian.

The initial Tacoma build already has proved mutually beneficial; many of those involved are continuing to volunteer as part of their ongoing occupational therapy. And the commitment made by these recovering citizen-soldiers has provided Habitat with a new crew of inspiring volunteer-advocates.

Michael Martinez, a U.S. Army specialist, prepares the way for roof trusses to be placed atop a Habitat house going up in Tacoma, Washington. Martinez was one of 30-plus local soldiers and veterans to build with Habitat from the U.S. Army's "Warrior Transition Battalion"