Heroes at Home – Helping Veterans One at a Time

It was an easy conversation, two veterans talking about what they both enjoy doing – helping other veterans, particularly those in need. None to be left behind…

Tom AielloTom Aiello and I had met in New York during another great veteran event last year but now we were talking about the Sears Heroes at Home program. Heroes at Home had just finished the rebuild of their 1,000th veteran home in conjunction with Rebuilding Together. I could hear the pride in Tom’s voice as we talked about the program that has given back so much to veterans. Sgt Johnny Agbi was an Army medic, disabled, in a wheel chair, living alone and needed a major rebuild of his house. It took four months (the average is about one month) due to the comprehensive scope of making his home safe and usable for someone in a wheel chair. It included wheel chair accessibility, energy appliances, remodeling of kitchen cabinets and counters (imagine trying to reach for the oatmeal at wheel chair height), bathroom facilities and more to make it safe and easy to use.

Col K getting a pushThe Homes for Heroes program has been active for four years and already includes multiple thousands of volunteer hours, $15-16M in costs with an impact of 4 to 5 times the investment due to the efforts of those volunteers and folks like Johnny being taken care of as well! Tom said he had a special feeling for Army medics like Johnny as they had cared for Tom after he was injured on active duty. The feeling that it was more than just helping a veteran but that lives might be saved – profound for sure. A rebuilt home with features to make life easier; that people, complete strangers cared about them and an uplifted spirit of hope for the future. It was readily apparent to this veteran, who had been through a very short time in a wheel chair due to a foreign body invasion (cancer), that our veterans would be blessed by these volunteers.

It was a special event in DC for number 1,000, the First Lady was there and spoke about volunteering and caring for our military families. She announced the launching of “Joining Forces” a program to encourage Americans to support the troops and their families.

“…to bring Americans together to recognize, honor and take action to support military families as they serve our country and throughout their lives. The initiative aims to educate, challenge, and spark action from all sectors of society to ensure military families have the support they have earned.”

When Tom responded to my question about what he would tell readers about Veterans Day, he said we should think about what veterans have done for us. “The best way to show appreciation is by deeds, not just words”. Do one thing to get started and then the rest follows. (Need some suggestions? Here are 101 Ways to Thank a Veteran). But why the Sears corporation? Why are they involved?

He felt that companies had an obligation to help veterans but that Sears had a heritage of helping military families and with 30,000 veteran employees it was an easy connection. “What do we stand for” as a company makes veteran support for Sears important according to Tom. What does their support include? The PCS Promise for follow on employment for veterans and their families at the next place is a new effort, the Heroes at Home Wish Registry provided $4.09M in gift cards in 2010, Sears Blue Tool Crew offers a 10% military discount on tools and they have a hiring preference program for veterans. Their veteran hiring program target has been increased this year by 10%!  Thank you from this veteran! Find out more at

My next interview will be with Sgt Johnny Agbi! We have the story from Tom’s perspective, now we will tell it from Johnny’s! Have a great day and remember to tell a Veteran thank you on Veterans Day!

Photo Credits:  Tom Aiello Division Vice President, Public Relations, Sears Holding Corporation  Sears Photo

Video Courtesy of Sears Holdings and Euro RSCG Worldwide PR byColonel KonTuesday, October 25, 2011Military Life:,,,,,,

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