ATAS International Inc. had teams involved in two fundraising events held in the Lehigh Valley.
The Lehigh Valley Health Network Via Marathon celebrated their 10 year anniversary of this event. ATAS had two teams in the 26.2 mile team relay. Thousands of runners competed, and the event raised money to benefit Via, which provides services for children and adults with disabilities. This is the fourth consecutive year that ATAS has participated, and it’s the first year they had two teams entered.
Four employees participated in the inaugural Lehigh Valley 9/11 Heroes Run for the Travis Manion Foundation. Over 250 runners, walkers and volunteers participated, raising over $6,500. The money will be used to empower veterans and families of fallen heroes to develop character in future generations.
Peg Bus, human resources manager of ATAS, participated in the Via Marathon. She states, “We fully support the employees of ATAS in giving back to our community by participating in many different fundraising events throughout the year. I was proud to run for such a worthwhile cause, and to run beside those with whom I work.”
ATAS International Inc. had teams involved in two fundraising events held in the Lehigh Valley.
Kennesaw, Ga.-based Jasper Contractors Inc. representatives believe it’s important to give back to those who serve in our military. As such, the firm joined the Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project. Toledo, Ohio-based Owens Corning began partnering with Support Our Troops, Daytona Beach, Fla., in March. Via the project, military families in need can apply to have a roof installed at no cost to them by an Owens Corning Platinum Preferred Roofing Contractor, such as Jasper Contractors.Owens Corning worked with Support Our Troops to locate Paul and Colette Singrossi, who have three children and live within Jasper Contractors’ Florida service area. Paul, an E6 staff sergeant, has served 16 years in the U.S. Army and recently returned home to Winter Springs, Fla., from a deployment in Africa. Paul and Colette both are police officers in their community.
The Singrossis’ existing roof was 11-years old and consisted of a lot of patchwork that was performed to pass inspection when the Singrossis purchased their home. While Paul was in and out of the country, roof repairs were neglected and leaks began appearing and worsening.
The new 2,500-square-foot Owens Corning Oakridge laminated asphalt shingle roof in the color Driftwood was installed in just one day by seven Jasper Contractors crew members.
Carl McNair, president of Jasper Contractors, is happy to help the Singrossi family: “This gave us the opportunity to provide just a small piece of relief to one of our most treasured veterans. Mr. and Mrs. Singrossi have done a wonderful service to our country, so it was a small gesture on our part to provide them with a new roof.”
The new roof alleviates the Singrossis’ worries. “There was water seeping through [the roof] so it’s really nice to have peace of mind that we don’t have to worry about trying to find the money for that,” Colette says.
Paul adds: “[Service members] have to come back and reintegrate into society, so there’s not a lot of time to look for things that help us out. It’s nice to have the support to know that what we do is actually cared about.”
PHOTOS: JASPER CONTRACTORS INC.
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.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.
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.”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.”
DEWALT, a manufacturer of professional power tools and accessories, celebrated the grand opening of power tool manufacturing at its facility in Greenfield, Ind. The company held a ribbon-cutting ceremony—sawing through a board in place of a ribbon—on Veterans Day. To commemorate this milestone for its seventh manufacturing facility in the U.S., DEWALT also donated 70 power tools, hand tools and accessories to the Greenfield VFW, including some of the finest corded tools made right in Greenfield, as well as tools manufactured at DEWALT’s six other U.S. plants using global materials.
“We’ve made big investments to make DEWALT power tools at our Greenfield facility, using materials from all over the world, for the first time in history. Our employees are proud to tell people who they work for, what they do and that they make products for the American worker right here in the U.S.,” says Jeff Ansell, senior vice president and group executive at Stanley Black & Decker, parent company of DEWALT. “We’re doing the right things, for the right reasons, the right way. And as we manufacture more and more tools in the U.S. using global materials, our productivity and our quality continues to improve.”
DEWALT understands that buying American products and building the American economy are important to its end users. The tool company continues to bring some of its manufacturing back to the U.S. with the opening of Charlotte in 2013 and Greenfield. In 2014, DEWALT produced 62 million individual units of products using global materials in its U.S. plants.
In addition, DEWALT has created new jobs for Americans across the country, including 135 new jobs at the 238,000-square-foot Greenfield facility. A firm supporter of Americans in uniform, DEWALT is also committed to hiring veterans and currently employs more than 1,500 former members of the military throughout is ranks. The company has pledged to donate a minimum of $1.5 million over three years to the Wounded Warrior Project and to hire 300 U.S. military veterans over the same period.
DeWALT, a manufacturer of industrial power tools, hand tools and accessories, announces the expansion of its initiative to manufacture products in the U.S. With this expansion, an additional 60 corded and cordless power tools are being made domestically with global materials. An expansion of production into an existing company-owned plant in Greenfield, Ind., brings the total number of DEWALT plants in the U.S. to seven, with facilities in Connecticut, Maryland, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, making some of the brand’s most popular tools.
DEWALT will now produce approximately 14 million products each year in the U.S. Given a choice between a product made in the U.S. and an identical one made abroad, 78 percent of Americans would rather buy the American product, according to a 2013 survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.
In addition to the efficiency that domestic expansion provides, DEWALT has also created new jobs for Americans across the country, adding more than 500 employees to the expanded manufacturing facilities since the campaign began. This brings the total number of employees at U.S.-based DEWALT plants to the thousands. DEWALT is also committed to hiring veterans and currently employs more than 1,000 former members of the military in its manufacturing facilities alone.
“We continue to grow our domestic capabilities because the professional using our tools wants to buy products made in the U.S. DEWALT is making the power tools for the contractors and builders who are themselves building America,” says Frank Mannarino, president of DeWALT Professional Products Group. “Whether it’s through our high-quality tools made in the U.S. with global materials, convenient service repair centers, or products backed by extensive warranties, the DEWALT professional end user can expect premium power tools that are made and serviced by fellow Americans—some of whom are veterans—right here in the U.S.”
With the added products, facilities and a continued commitment to expanding domestic manufacturing, DeWALT is able to deliver products with greater efficiency, without adding cost, while keeping the same Guaranteed Tough quality customers have come to know and expect from the brand.
When Grant Smith returned from active duty as a U.S. Infantryman in the Marine Corps, he was concerned about finding a job. He had been in the military since the age of 18 and, having been a rifleman, he did not believe he had any marketable skills that would lead him to a job with a future. Smith’s sergeant told him about a trade fair in Columbus, Ohio, in which potential employers would be available to interview veterans for a variety of jobs in the area. At the trade fair, Smith met Chad Muth, president of Muth & Co. Roofing, Westerville, Ohio, and was hired as an installer in the spring of 2013.
Fast-forward two years and Smith is now a field supervisor.
It was a win-win for Smith and Muth, and it was all thanks to the Hiring Our Heroes program.
Hiring Our Heroes is a national initiative administered by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Washington, D.C. Its mission is to help veterans, active service members and their spouses transition back into the workforce through a series of hiring fairs held throughout the country, as well as through an online process. To date, more than 850 fairs have been held with 35,000 employers participating, including businesses of all sizes, as well as government and nonprofits. The program also offers employment workshops, résumé reviews and career coaching.
The initiative began four years ago as a response to the gap between businesses looking for skilled workers and those returning from the military with no idea where to look for employment. Job seekers and potential employers may attend hiring fairs at no charge.
“That is one thing that makes the program stand out and makes it so successful—small- and medium-sized businesses can come. A lot don’t have recruiters or HR, but they want to hire a vet, a quality worker,” says Kim Morton, communications manager for Hiring Our Heroes.
Though the numbers are not updated daily, Morton says her team has been able to track 25,000 hires made through the hiring fairs, and those are only from employers reporting back to the program.
The draw for employers is multifold. “Most employers are there because they know they’re going to get a quality employee,” Morton notes. “[Veterans] have had years of discipline and dedication. They know how to stay until the job is done and know how to problem solve; that is the No. 1 skill employers are looking for.”
In addition, Morton adds, veterans know how to work in flexible and uncertain conditions and can be resourceful to get the job done. “Once [a company] hires a vet, they want more, so we see employers coming time and time again,” she says.
Although the fairs are open to veterans of any era, Morton says the majority who attend are post-9/11 vets because their unemployment rate consistently has been higher than the national unemployment average. “For veterans under age 25, those numbers are closer to 20 percent. Those are the ones we see come to events the most,” Morton states.
In addition to in-person fairs, employers and veterans can find each other via online tools, such as a jobs portal and an employer best practices site, within the Hiring Our Heroes website. “Our goal is to ensure veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses are able to utilize our resources to connect with employers no matter where they are in the world,” Morton remarks.
PHOTO: MUTH & CO. ROOFING
The Associated General Contractors of America, Arlington, Va., has joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program as part of the construction industry’s effort to add 100,000 veterans during the next five years. The new partnership will make it easier for construction contractors to find, recruit and hire veterans.
“The only thing keeping many of our members from hiring vets is figuring out how to find them,” says Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s CEO. “This new partnership will make it easier for construction firms to find, recruit and hire veterans.”
The association’s members, commercial and civil construction firms across the country, are committed to hiring at least 100,000 veterans within five years, Sandherr adds. The new partnership comes at a time when two-thirds of construction firms report having a hard time finding skilled workers to fill positions. The partnership with Hiring Our Heroes will make it easier for firms to fill vacancies with highly qualified workers and will be a key part of the association’s Workforce Development Plan.
“Construction firms are always eager to hire veterans because they make such great professionals,” Sandherr notes. “As the economy continues to expand, our members will be looking to hire even more veterans than they already do.”
The association will begin distributing information to its members and state and local chapters about the new partnership and help recruit expanding construction firms to participate in job fairs and other hiring events organized by Hiring Our Heroes.
CertainTeed Corp. has made a multi-year commitment to Homes for Our Troops, a national non-profit organization dedicated to building specially adapted homes for severely injured veterans across the nation to enable them to rebuild their lives. The homes are provided mortgage-free to the veterans they serve. The company’s contribution of roofing, insulation and gypsum wallboard for 40 homes across the U.S. ensures that the homeowners will enjoy a lifetime of indoor comfort and sustainable performance.
“Having corporate partners like CertainTeed is essential to our mission of helping our nation’s most severely injured veterans regain their freedom and independence through the gift of a new home,” said Bill Ivey, Executive Director, at Homes for Our Troops. “It’s an honor to help these heroes rebuild their lives, and CertainTeed’s involvement ensures our homes are built using only the best materials and finest craftsmanship available, and will stand the test of time.”
The 1-story homes feature an open floor plan, going beyond ADA compliance, with roll-in showers, roll-under cooktops and sinks, and other standard accessibility items. The homes may also include specialized items including lift systems, keyless door entry and voice activation controls. Each home is constructed by teams of skilled laborers on site to build, paint and landscape.
Each home will be outfitted with a complete CertainTeed Integrity Roof System, comprised of underlayments, shingles, accessory products and ventilation all working together to provide optimum performance. Asphalt shingle choices will include the durable Landmark 30-year color-blended line of shingles with the widest array of colors and backed by an industry-leading, limited lifetime warranty.
CertainTeed is also providing complete interior wall systems for the homes, including Sustainable Insulation fiberglass batts and a variety of high-performance wallboard. Sustainable Insulation is made from recycled and renewable content, including a plant-based binder, and contains no formaldehydes, dyes, acrylics or unnecessary fire-retardant chemicals. For areas of the home prone to moisture, such as bathrooms and laundry rooms, the team will install M2Tech Moisture & Mold Resistant gypsum board and Diamondback GlasRoc tile backer. CertainTeed Type X gypsum board, which offers a one-hour fire rating, will be used in the garage and mechanical room, and each home¹s attic will be insulated with InsulSafe SP premium blowing wool.
A typical home takes five to seven months to build and costs an average of $430,000. The organization has built more than 166 such homes for wounded service members since 2004.