Atlas Roofing Partners with Veterans Community Project for Phase Two of Veterans Housing Village

Atlas Roofing Corporation, in partnership with the Veterans Community Project (VCP), will begin Phase Two construction for the Veterans Housing Village in Kansas City, Missouri. The Veterans Community Project’s housing village is a specialized community of 50 tiny homes that provide transitional housing and address the underlying cause of veteran homelessness.

Phase Two of the project officially begins with the Atlas Build Day on August 8. Atlas employees, contracting partners and VCP leaders will be on the site to begin the construction of more than 13 tiny homes, which will be added to the existing neighborhood of finished homes, a community center and resource facility of full-time staff of case managers to assist the veterans. The addition of Phase Two will make more room for homeless veterans, where they can seek rehabilitation, job assistance services, and support from their peers in a safe environment.

“Our partnership with Atlas Roofing has been instrumental in the successful completion of our first veteran village development,” said Brandonn Mixon, co-founder and Chief Project Officer at Veterans Community Project. “Thanks to the high-performance value that the Atlas products offer, I am confident that our residents will stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer while we keep our energy costs low.”

Atlas is collaborating with key partners and volunteers to provide specialized services and on-site contractor support. Partners, including ABC Supply Company and JR Roofing, will be donating time and/or services for the construction. The Build Day event will focus on the installation of Atlas EnergyShield, a foil faced polyiso continuous insulation for residential and commercial exterior walls. Meeting all building standards, the EnergyShield product allows for short term savings and long-term energy efficiencies.

Phase Two of the Veterans Village will consist of 13 tiny homes that will house homeless veterans and assist in their mission to end veteran homelessness. VCP has set a goal to complete Phase Two by Veterans Day 2018 and will rely on the support of the community, donors and volunteers to make this goal a reality. The VCP will work with volunteers on a majority of the hands-on building process so the whole community can get involved. Trade partners will complete mechanical, electrical and plumbing work as needed. During the build process, VCP will also be planning and coordinating Phase Three and Four to complete all 49 homes and the community center in a timely fashion.

For more information, visit www.AtlasRoofing.com and www.VeteransCommunityProject.org.

Atlas to Host Webinar on Exit and Succession Planning June 18

Atlas Roofing is hosting a free webinar on exit, succession and contingency planning Monday, June 18 at 10 a.m. Eastern. Learn why roofing contractors need an exit or succession plan, as well as common mistakes made during the process and the best strategies for success.

Hear from business-planning experts Kevin Kennedy and Joe Bazzano about how to get all of the proper financial and legal arrangements in place to preserve your business legacy and secure your financial future.

Kennedy, CEO of Beacon Exit Planning, specializes in exit and success planning for private business owners. He uses the experience of selling his 63-year-old roofing business — including the mistakes he made — to help others navigate the process more smoothly.

Bazzano, COO of Beacon, is a certified public accountant, certified valuation analyst and certified business exit consultant with more than 25 years of experience. He shows business owners how to increase the value of their companies and save on taxes.

With their knowledge and expertise, these professionals can guide contractors around the potential pitfalls of leaving a roofing business — either by choice or circumstance.

To register, visit https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/8050003304757158147

New Color Palette Available for High-Definition Shingles

Atlas Roofing Corporation launches its new Pinnacle Pristine Natural Expressions high-definition color palette.

Natural Expressions’ exhilarating hues are created through a proprietary manufacturing process in which drops of different colors are strategically added to the dragon’s tooth and shim — the parts of the shingle that give it depth and character.

Pinnacle Pristine shingles featuring the Natural Expressions palette pull from rich, color-reserve blends and are available in five bold, designer shades:

  • Coastal Granite – Imagine standing on the windswept coast of Maine and feeling a little thrill to see how the color of the rocks almost matches the pounding seas. This deep gray shingle is anything but neutral.
  • Copper Canyon – Drawn to wide-open spaces and big, dramatic vistas? Looking like they came directly from the rugged landscapes of the Old West, these shingles can’t help but inspire a sense of adventure.
  • Majestic Shake – Know how historic trees have a certain dignity about
 them? Some homes do too. Offering a formal, traditional aesthetic, these shingles deliver a look that’s serious without being severe.
  • Morning Harvest – Golden sunlight and a market basket overflowing with the bounty of the garden – if anything inspires warmth and contentment, this is it. These golden tones offer a simple message: welcome.
  • Summer Storm – The world just seems fresher after a good rain. The air smells clean and rain-washed cobblestone streets shimmer like jewels. These shingles capture that mood of renewed optimism, all with not a cloud on the horizon.

“These colors, which are ‘inspired by nature and designed for you,’ will help homeowners express their personal style on the exterior of their homes,” says Paul Casseri, product manager for Atlas Roofing.

In addition, Natural Expressions shingles include all of the great benefits and features of the Pinnacle Pristine line.

Backed by more than 25 years of proven performance, Scotchgard Protector from 3M offers a lifetime limited warranty against black streaks that make roofs look older, tired and ugly. These stains, caused by algae, are prevented thanks to 3M’s copper granules and the way Atlas distributes those granules throughout each shingle.

“Atlas shingles offer the only lifetime warranty against black streaks and stains backed by the power of Scotchgard Protector from 3M,” says Stan Bastek, director of marketing and sales development for Atlas Roofing.

Pinnacle Pristine shingles with the new Natural Expressions palette feature HP42” Technology with an enhanced 1 ½-inch Sweet Spot nailing area and double FASTAC adhesive sealant line that provides a 130 mph wind protection guarantee.

“The reason we can accomplish this high-wind warranty is because we’re thermally sealing the back fiberglass mat of this shingle,” Casseri explains. “That’s where all the strength is coming from.”

All Pinnacle Pristine architectural shingles are eligible for the Atlas Signature Select Roofing System, which includes:

  • Atlas WeatherMaster Ice & Water Underlayment
  • Atlas Premium Underlayment
  • Atlas Pro-Cut Starter Shingles
  • Atlas Roof Shingles
  • Atlas Pro-Cut Hip & Ridge Shingles

Visit AtlasRoofing.com/roof-inspiration to use the Roof and Home Design Studio and download the RoofSwap app to see how the new Natural Expressions colors can enhance the look of any roof.

For more information on all of Atlas Roofing’s products, visit AtlasRoofing.com/roof-shingles.

New Designer Shingle Line Offers Scotchgard Protector

Atlas LegendAtlas Roofing Corporation announces the launch of its newest product, Legend Designer Fiberglass Shingles. With bold cuts and high-contrast color, these three-tab designer shingles provide the high style of an architectural look at an attractive price for homeowners, according to the manufacturer. In addition to its striking character, the new Legend shingle is loaded with features and benefits that offer homeowners the performance they expect from quality roof shingles.

“We’re thrilled to add Legend Designer Fiberglass Shingles to our family of products,” said Kirk Villar, vice president of Atlas Roofing. “Not only do these new shingles provide homeowners with a beautiful-looking roof, but they also include the algae-fighting power of Scotchgard Protector at an affordable price.”

According to the company, Legend is the industry’s first three-tab shingle that features the power of Scotchgard Protector, which helps prevent ugly black streaks caused by algae. Atlas shingles are built to withstand the harshest weather conditions. Legend shingles come with a 40-year Limited Warranty against manufacturing defects and have a 110 mph Wind Limited Warranty.

Legend shingles are eligible for the Atlas Signature Select Roofing System, which offers increased protection and peace of mind. The Atlas system also increases warranty protection for homeowners. Atlas Signature Select Roofing System components include Atlas WeatherMaster Ice & Water Underlayment; Atlas Premium Underlayment; Atlas Pro-Cut Starter Shingles; Atlas Roof Shingles; and Atlas Pro-Cut Hip & Ridge Shingles

“Atlas is resetting the expectations for a three-tab shingle,” said Stan Bastek, director of marketing and sales development for Atlas Roofing. “The Legend shingle is a designer three-tab shingle that offers aesthetics, value, quality and performance that you can’t find from other manufacturers.”

The Legend shingle is suitable for single- and multi-family homes and available in five popular colors: Black Shadow, Desert Shake, Hearthstone Gray, Heatherblend and Weathered Wood.

For more information, visit www.AtlasRoofing.com.

Atlas Roofing Employee and Products Featured on HGTV Show

Atlas shingles featuring Scotchgard Protector by 3M – installed on the home of an Atlas Roofing Corp. employee – were featured on an episode of the HGTV home renovation series “Home Town.” The show, based in Laurel, Mississippi, is hosted by Ben and Erin Napier and focuses on renovating historical houses in their small town.

Titled “A Little Rough, A Little Refined,” the show aired Feb. 26. It showcased the renovation of the home of Cory Burks and his family. Burks, who lives in Laurel, is the quality control manager for the web technologies division at the Atlas manufacturing plant in Meridian.

Part of “Home Town’s” second season, the Burks’ renovation included installing a new roof, for which Atlas Roofing supplied its Signature Select Roofing System. Products included 38 squares of its HP42″ format shingles in StormMaster Shake Majestic Shake, featuring Scotchgard Protector by 3M, and Summit 60 underlayment.

For more information, a about Atlas Roofing products, visit www.AtlasRoofing.com.

For additional information about the show, visit www.HGTV.com/HomeTown.

Efficient and Effective Construction Through Building Codes

This fire station roof assembly includes thermally efficient cross-ventilated non-structural composite insulation manufactured by Atlas Roofing and installed by Utah Tile & Roofing.   Photos: Atlas Roofing Corp

This fire station roof assembly includes thermally efficient cross-ventilated non-structural composite insulation manufactured by Atlas Roofing and installed by Utah Tile & Roofing. Photos: Atlas Roofing Corp

In a world where the bottom line is a critical concern in any construction project, conscientious design and roofing professionals look at the lifetime costs of a building instead of just the short-term construction outlay. Choices made during a building’s initial design and construction have long-term influence on the lifetime of its operation and maintenance. With so many building products and options available, building codes take on a vital role in guiding decisions about building quality, safety, and energy performance. These trusted benchmarks, compiled with input from a broad range of stakeholders, are designed to ensure that the best technologies, materials, and methods are used in construction.

Building Energy Codes 101

Model building energy codes are revised every three years to incorporate the latest research and ensure that new and existing buildings benefit from the methods and products that will produce the most value and safety over time. The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and ASHRAE set standards tailored to specific climate zones and include options to provide flexibility in choosing the methods and materials best suited to each project’s needs while nevertheless meeting the requirements. Without regular, incremental improvements to these codes, new buildings would be dated even before their construction begins.

Indeed, while some building features are straightforward to replace and upgrade over time, some of the most vital elements of building performance need to be “designed in” at the outset. Codes are designed to lock in savings during initial construction or major renovations to promote cost-effective design and construction practices. For example, roof replacement projects provide an opportunity to cost-effectively improve the overall energy efficiency performance of buildings.

Energy-efficient design strategies are helpful to all building owners, including government and municipal projects built with taxpayer funding. Pictured here is Fire Station #108 in Brighton, Utah. Photos: Atlas Roofing Corp.

One of the major benefits of building code updates in recent years is the focus on energy efficiency and resiliency. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety writes that, “Over the centuries, building codes have evolved from regulations stemming from tragic experiences to standards designed to prevent them.” With the ongoing effects of climate change, buildings are subjected to extremes of weather and temperature that challenge the performance of their systems. Most structures built over the previous century were not designed or constructed with energy efficiency in mind and suffer from poor insulation and dramatic thermal loss. Buildings account for over 40 percent of America’s total energy consumption, 74 percent of our electricity, and cause 40 percent of our greenhouse emissions. Implementing best practices for sustainable design and utilizing highly efficient building materials like insulation could save billions of dollars a year and improve the reliability of the electrical grid systems.

Energy-Efficient Roofing

A report prepared in 2009 by Bayer MaterialScience (now Covestro), “Energy and Environmental Impact Reduction Opportunities for Existing Buildings with Low-Slope Roofs,” determined that going from an R-12 insulation level (i.e., the average R-value of roofs on older buildings) to R-30 would pay for itself in energy savings in just 12 years with an average reduction in building energy use of 7 percent. Better roof insulation also saves money on equipment, since buildings with weaker envelopes require larger and costlier HVAC systems and future upgrades to HVAC equipment that is smaller and less expensive will always be limited by this constraint.

These savings are not only confined to new construction. In renovations, the removal and replacement of a roof membrane offers the best and most cost-effective opportunity to improve a building’s thermal envelope and better position that building for energy-efficiency upgrades down the road.

Energy Efficiency in Government Buildings

While these strategies are helpful to all building owners, they are especially important for government projects built with an increasingly tight supply of taxpayer dollars. Here is another place where the building codes provide a major assist. For federal commercial and multi-family high-rise residential buildings where the design process began after Nov. 6, 2016, agencies are required to design buildings to meet ASHRAE 90.1-2013 and, if life-cycle cost-effective, achieve energy consumption levels that are at least 30 percent below the levels of the ASHRAE 90.1-2013 baseline building. These savings are calculated by looking at the building envelope and energy consuming systems normally specified by ASHRAE 90.1 (such as space heating, space cooling, ventilation, service water heating, and lighting but not receptacle and process loads not covered by 90.1).

Photos: Atlas Roofing Corp.

Changes in the 2013 edition of ASHRAE 90.1 clarify the insulation requirements of various low-slope re-roofing activities. New definitions of “roof covering” (the topmost component of the roof assembly intended for weather resistance, fire classification, or appearance) and “roof recovering” (the process of installing an additional roof covering over an existing roof covering without removing the existing roof covering) were added and the exceptions to the R-value requirement for roof replacements were clarified to include only “roof recovering” and the “removal and replacement of a roof covering where there is existing insulation integral to or below the roof deck.” In all other instances, when a roof membrane is removed and replaced, the insulation must be brought up to current R-value requirements, which range from R-20 to R-35, depending on climate zone. In addition, the prescriptive R-value requirements for low-slope roofs under 90.1-2013, as compared to previous version (90.1-2010), are higher. For instance, in populous climate zones 4 and 5 the R-values for these roofs increased from R-20 to R-30.

The Department of Energy is preparing to start a rulemaking process to update the federal building energy standard baseline to the 90.1-2016 Standard, which will provide about an 8 percent improvement in energy cost savings compared to 90.1-2013. However, no changes were made to the R-values for low-slope roofs. Managers of federal buildings are working to comply with updated directives that impact new construction and building alterations, including:

  • “Guiding Principles for Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings”
  • GSA PBS-P100 “Facilities Standards for the Public Buildings Service”
  • DOD’s Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC).

The instructions in these publications coupled with Executive Order 13693, issued on March 15, 2015, and “Guiding Principles for Sustainable Federal Buildings,” require new and existing federal buildings to adopt improved energy efficiency and “green building” attributes. New buildings are expected to “employ strategies that minimize energy usage” and existing ones must “seek to achieve optimal energy efficiency.” These directives require:

  • Regular benchmarking and reporting of building annual energy use intensity.
  • Annual 2.5 percent improvement in energy use intensity every year through the end of 2015.
  • All new buildings be designed to achieve net-zero energy use beginning in 2020.

Good Practice in Action

At the end of the day, the success of building codes in producing the cost-savings, weather-resiliency, and energy efficiency is determined by how they are adopted and enforced locally. If the most current codes were universally adopted and enforced,

Photos: Atlas Roofing Corp.

there would be no competitive advantage to inferior building construction practices. Incremental upgrades would provide a steady stream of work that would increase competitiveness for building professionals and suppliers. Updated job skills would increase market value for construction professionals and enable innovation in the construction sector and increased market share for innovative products and processes that would improve economies of scale and lower their cost differential.

Building codes provide a comprehensive and reliable standard that contribute to local economies and improve building performance. Knowledge of code requirements help designers and contractors deliver more value to their clients. Finally, a bit more of an investment during design and construction can yield significant savings in building operation and tangible benefits to the environment and economy of areas that adopt higher building standards.

Atlas Roofing Appoints New Director of Private Label and Tapered Services

Atlas Roofing Corporation has promoted Shaun Kerschen to Director of Private Label and Tapered Services, within the Roof and Wall Insulation division. According to the company, Kerschen has worked for Atlas since 2002, where he started as a Design Engineer for the Atlas EPS division. Shortly after, he transitioned over to the polyiso roof insulation side of the business to become a Tapered Specialist and eventually relocated to Atlanta in 2006. Since beginning his career with Atlas Corporation, Kerschen has acquired more than 15 years of experience in the roofing and insulation industry.

“As a company, we’re proud to have leading industry talent like Shaun, who choose to build their careers with Atlas Corporation,” said Steve Heaton, Vice President Sales and Marketing of Atlas Roof and Wall Insulation Division. “Shaun first made his mark as a tapered specialist for our best-in-class tapered roof insulation systems, which set him on the path to ultimately lead our Tapered Department. We look forward to continued departmental and private label growth under Shaun’s leadership as the Director.”

In his new role, Kerschen will work closely with Tim Milroy, who was also recently promoted to take over as Director of Sales – Roof Insulation within the Roof and Wall Insulation Division.

For more information, visit www.atlasroofing.com.

Dan Worstell of Pyramid Roofing Creates Positive Change in His Community

Dan Worstell (right) is pictured with his dad Jerry (center) and his brother Dave (left).

Dan Worstell (right) is pictured with his dad Jerry (center) and his brother Dave (left).

Dan Worstell, president of Pyramid Roofing, which has offices in Newport News, Suffolk, Virginia Beach and Williamsburg, Va., believes the biggest changes can be made with small efforts. Worstell lives his belief every day.

For example, after signing up as a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Williamsburg, he was quickly paired with 7-year-old Jordan. The plan as to spend a few hours a month with the boy over the course of a year, sharing activities and generally being a positive male role model for Jordan. Recently, the pair celebrated 10 years as “Big” and “Little,” and both their lives have changed for the better as a result of their relationship. Jordan is a smart, popular teen in his senior year of high school. He works after school and on weekends, has his own bank account and buys presents for the Worstell family at Christmas.

Meanwhile Worstell and his family—wife Tammy and sons Derek and Drew—include Jordan in family activities, from holiday celebrations to just hanging out around the house. Worstell also attends Jordan’s sporting events and hangs photos of Jordan along with his own sons on the walls of his office.

Through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Williamsburg, Wortsell has mentored Jordan for the past 10 years.

Through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Williamsburg, Wortsell has mentored Jordan for the past 10 years.

Worstell is not only one of the most prominent roofing contractors in the Hampton Roads area, he’s also a stand-up guy who cares about his employees and community.

For example, Worstell roofed the home of a disabled veteran for free and also supplied the labor to install roofing shingles (donated by Atlanta-based Atlas Roofing Corp.) at the Jamestown 4-H Center. On rain and snow days, Worstell keeps his crews working by posting on Facebook that the roofers are available to do odd jobs around the house. All Worstell asks in return is a $15 minimum donation to the Grove Christian Outreach Center.

On rainy mornings, Worstell often can be found in his company truck in the Chick-fil-A drive-thru in Hampton Roads. He hands his credit card to the cashier and moves to the end of the line, paying for breakfast for everyone originally behind him. Along with the free breakfast, the cashier passes out a chip clip with the Pyramid Roofing name and logo on it. This small investment has led to new business and positive feedback about Pyramid Roofing.

Photos: Atlas Roofing Corp.

Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress Announces 2016 – 2017 Board of Trustees

The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress announces its board of trustees for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

James Patterson, senior vice president—procurement for Centimark Corp., Canonsburg, Pa., is elected president of the Alliance; Thomas Saeli, CEO of Duro-Last Inc., Saginaw, Mich., is elected vice president and Jim Barr, president of Barr Roofing Co., Abilene, Texas, is elected secretary-treasurer.

Additionally, the following are approved to serve on the board of trustees:

Bob Bechtoldt, president and chief executive officer of Douglas Colony Group, Commerce City, Colo.
Nelson Braddy, chief executive officer of King of Texas Roofing Company LP, Grand Prairie, Texas
Dane Bradford, president of Bradford Roof Management Inc.., Billings, Mont.
Bob Daly, president of Kaw Roofing and Sheet Metal Inc., Kansas City
Naomi Dupre, president and CEO of Kirby Fiberglass, Pueblo West, Colo.
Ken Farrish, president of Atlas Roofing Corp., Atlanta
Josh Kelly, president of OMG Roofing Products, Agawam, Mass.
John Massarelli, vice president of sales and marketing for Beacon Roofing Supply Inc., Herndon, Va.
Paul Mitchell, strategic initiatives and alliances for Tremco Roofing and Building Maintenance, Beachwood, Ohio
Rod Petrick, president of Ridgeworth Roofing Co. Inc., Frankfort, Ill.
Chris Schmidt, director of sales for USG Securock Roofing Systems, Chicago
Tom Walker, executive director of commercial roofing for ABC Supply Co. Inc., Beloit, Wis.
David Workman, president and chief executive officer of RoofConnect, Sheridan, Ark.

Manufacturer Donates Roofing Materials and More to Camp that Assists Veterans Suffering from Brain Trauma

Rick Briggs is in his element. The retired Air Force major has just spent the better part of the afternoon chatting with a steady stream of military veterans and their families, all of whom have come to get a closer look at Camp Liberty, a rehab facility of sorts designed to help wounded soldiers and those suffering from brain trauma.

Camp Liberty, Brooklyn, Mich., is a rehab facility designed to help wounded soldiers and those suffering from brain trauma.

Camp Liberty, Brooklyn, Mich., is a rehab facility designed to help wounded soldiers and those suffering from brain trauma.

Now, he’s enjoying a drive through the property’s northwest end in a Polaris multi-seat ATV. He is away from the crowds. Away from the rumblings of the nearby roads. Away from the jack-hammering of the nearby construction. All that can be heard now is the gurgling of the nearby Raisin River and the wind gently bending the wildflowers in a vast field within the 137-acre complex. Briggs points to a landmark in the distance and begins to tell one of his favorite stories. It’s apparent that he’s told this tale many times in the past year.

Just last year, Briggs recalls, Britani Lafferty, a 29-year-old veteran who spent time in Iraq as a combat medic, visited the Camp Liberty site. Suffering from debilitating physical and mental wounds from her tour, Lafferty tried countless medical treatments to no avail. Desperate for something that might work, Lafferty turned to the healing power of nature. Invited to spend time at Camp Liberty, Lafferty tried her hand at deer hunting. From a blind overlooking the Raisin River, Lafferty bagged her very first buck. And for Camp Liberty, it marked the first successful hunt for their program.

To Briggs, the moment symbolized that Lafferty could overcome her own afflictions, that she was still able to do things without the help of others. This is the sort of therapy Briggs and the Camp Liberty project hope to impart. “I know vets who are really dealing with severe difficulties,” Briggs says. “They don’t want to be around people. They won’t go to a mall. They won’t go to a movie. We have actually gotten them out here and back to where they can get out and start doing stuff.”

And that’s Camp Liberty’s ultimate goal. “When we get out here doing recreation with guys, it gives them the opportunity to listen and realize that PTSD is treatable,” Briggs adds. “These guys don’t want to believe it. They don’t want to think about it. They don’t want to admit they’re dealing with it. ”

The story of Lafferty is just one example of what Briggs thinks could be a new way to tackle the effects of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) to the body and mind. With the construction of a new program facility, scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, the full vision of Briggs and his childhood friend Allan Lutes is within reach.

Lutes and Briggs aim to construct a wilderness recreation facility focused on helping military veterans recover from debilitating injuries, brain trauma, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Frustrated by the lack of attention paid to veterans (just two years ago, Michigan ranked dead last in the U.S. in military spending on vets), the two vowed to make a difference. And after years of planning, preparation and fundraising, the project, which is located just a few miles from the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, is nearly complete.

From hunting to fishing to kayaking, Camp Liberty offers veterans a quiet, tranquil location where rehabilitation can flourish.

From hunting to fishing to kayaking, Camp Liberty offers veterans a quiet, tranquil location where rehabilitation can flourish.

With the help of volunteer crews, Lutes and Briggs are overseeing one of the last steps of the project, the construction of a 2,880-square-foot, handicapped accessible lodge that has taken shape over the past five months. Upon completion, the three-bedroom, two-bathroom structure will allow injured veterans and their families to lengthen their stay and take advantage of all of the outdoor activities the massive site has to offer—and it won’t cost them a cent.

Amidst this huge habitat stand 10 state-of-the-art hunting blinds and wildlife observation towers, all fully handicapped accessible. Along with guided hunting expeditions, the veterans can fish in the nearby Raisin River, hike along numerous nature trails, and enjoy the serenity of a reflection area and outdoor chapel. From hunting to fishing to kayaking, Camp Liberty offers veterans—particularly those who have suffered injuries in combat or are challenged by traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder—a quiet, tranquil location where rehabilitation can flourish.

“Hunting is just a small part of what we offer here,” Lutes notes. “Every inch of this facility has been thought through as a way of something that is going to make someone feel comfortable, feel at peace, feel part of nature, and be able to reflect on their life.”

An ambitious project like this doesn’t just happen, of course. The financial barriers would be too daunting for most people, even if they were smart enough to come up with such a unique vision. Briggs, Lutes and the Camp Liberty team have raised close to $300,000 toward their building projects and have recruited volunteers to help with completing the site’s projects. The primary contributor, Lutes adds, has been the Eisenhower Center, the country’s leading brain injury facility, which has donated more than $200,000 to the project. Among a bevy of donors, Atlas Roofing Corp. has provided almost $30,000 in building products for the construction of the program facility, including the ThermalStar Radiant Comfort in-floor heat panels that will regulate heating within the complex, ThermalStar LCI-SS insulated structural sheathing, AC Foam Crossvent Insulation roofing product, WeatherMaster Ice and Water Shield, Gorilla Guard EverFelt Underlayment and Pinnacle Pristine Green Shingles.

“I think the right word [to describe his reaction to the financial support] would be overjoyed,” Lutes says. “Overjoyed that other people have bought into our vision, that other people have seen the value and need for helping our veterans and to help people who have mobility issues enjoy the outdoors. I mean, that is really heartwarming.”

Atlas Roofing Corp. has provided almost $30,000 in building products for the construction of the program facility.

Atlas Roofing Corp. has provided almost $30,000 in building products for the construction of the program facility.

To Charlene Zezawa, the project would have been stalled from the outset had it not been for Briggs’ uncanny ability to advocate for the camp’s vision. She was so taken by a presentation by Briggs at a golf fundraiser several years ago, Zezawa signed on to help out. Before she knew it, she was asked to serve on Camp Liberty’s board of directors as its secretary. Briggs’ passion is contagious, she said. “Rick is the best fundraising person I have ever met in my entire life,” Zezawa states. “He will go after it. You have to have heart and Rick has heart. That’s what drives him.”

Zezawa is among a steady stream of volunteers who have lent a hand. Throughout the summer, members of the Jackson County Habitat for Humanity jumped on board to lead the construction of the program facility’s foundation, structure and roof. The crew, ranging in age from 60 to 93, spent the better part of the summer in what crew chief David Behnke called “a wonderful experience”. “If you can’t get behind this project, you can’t get behind anything,” he says.

A.J. Mikulka is a 33-year old Army National Guard veteran who has been hunting since she was a kid, learning how to carry a shotgun from her father. She is not unlike many of the veterans that Lutes and Briggs hope to help. On Aug. 9, 2007, Mikulka, serving in Mosul, Iraq, was in the midst of helping to train Iraqi police when the station started taking enemy fire. When she stepped out from behind a barricade, insurgent forces launched a rocket-propelled grenade. “It was a direct hit. It took my leg clean off,” she recalls. Mikulka now walks with a prosthetic, which is attached to her leg just below the knee.

Her physical recovery didn’t take nearly as long as the emotional recovery, though. Mikulka believes the mental recuperation offered by Camp Liberty will have a “profound effect” on wounded veterans like herself. “There’s always going to be stuff that you deal with [emotionally],” she says. “I know a lot of [injured veterans] who are still dealing with it years later. The hard part for me was [dealing with] the loss of career.”

Lutes and Briggs hope that Camp Liberty will be a place that people like Mikulka can come to heal and feel “normal again.” Research supports their hunch. A 2013 study by the University of Michigan indicated that time spent in nature can improve cognitive abilities, particularly for those who suffer from post-deployment issues. “The research clearly shows that extended outdoor recreation helps combat-injured veterans,” Briggs notes. “And the more severe their injuries, the more significant the outcomes.”

It’s nearly impossible to not come away impressed by what has happened in this remote area in southeastern Michigan. Roger Barnett, a 66-year-old veteran, who was “in the mud” in Vietnam, spent an afternoon with his wife Dottie chatting with other visitors at a recent Camp Liberty open house. “It’s just really great to have for these guys with disabilities,” Barnett states. “It’s all set up for them. It’s all set up for recreation, for them [to have] some kind of an outlet and get together and spend time in front of the fireplace and relax. It’s great. It’s just what they need.”

Now, Briggs and Lutes are just antsy to get the construction completed. While they enjoy bringing attention to Camp Liberty, raising funds and chatting with the press, they’re eager for the property to begin hosting those who need it the most. “We hope to be able to help the veterans realize that they may have a TBI issue or a PTSD issue and that there is a treatment option that can improve it without them sacrificing their jobs, their military rating or their relationships,” Lutes says. “We’ve proven to ourselves that what we do can change lives for the better.”