While I doubt this kind of tempest in a teapot would happen in our fair town, it is nevertheless our duty to keep a watchful eye out for our soldiers years after our vets have returned home from the Great Sandbox or elsewhere. I have confidence in our Athens Limestone Habitat for Humanity crew, in our various vets’ organizations, the Vets’ Museum, our legislators, (some of whom have been in combat themselves,) and Athens in general that what you are about to learn about below would not happen here.
Sgt Brian Wood served in the US Army and was in Afghanistan for two tours. He lost the hearing in one of his ears as a result of being in combat, and is still serving in the Illinois National Guard. When he came home, he found he qualified for a Habitat Home, went through all the necessary processes to get a HH home (including the hours necessary building other Habitat homes), and the time came for his to get started. It should be said here that Sgt Wood has not one but two Bronze Stars (an absolute rarity,) has a wife and family, and in everyone’s estimation, what makes for a true hero.
However, the man hit a snag, and that is that some of his would-be neighbors were pitching a fit over the fact that the Habitat approved plans call for a home made from wood, rather than brick. Someone actually started a petition to prevent the house from being built due to a lack of brick, and it had all of 10 signatures on it. Needless to say, the guy and his wife were pretty hurt and told the Peoria, Illinois Journal Star that “it’ll almost make you feel you’re not welcome.”
Thankfully, the local director of Habitat, a woman by the name of Lea Anne Schmidgall also told the Journal Star, “If we have to add brick, we’ll do it.” In addition, a politician has stepped up to see that the brick brouhaha will be resolved. Congressman Aaron Schock, a Republican from Illinois, has decided to be what is known in Habitat parlance as a Master Building Sponsor, which means either he’ll spring for the brick himself, or will find someone from the private sector to do so.
He stated, “Brian’s exemplary military service speaks for itself and includes two Bronze Stars. As a military spouse, Julie answered the call of duty alongside her husband serving as the unwavering foundation for their family and raising their three children while Brian was deployed,” he continued. “The Wood family has sacrificed immensely over the last decade in service to our country. This Habitat home is a small token from myself and a very grateful community for what the Wood family has done for all of us.”
Habitat has special builds throughout their season. One is the Woman Build, another is the Soldier Build, and homes are always approved by the local powers that be, long before the ground is broken. I am just glad that people, both in the private and public sector stepped up to buy the bricks, and get this hero and his family into the house he worked for. As for the petition, I can only hope the 10 signers are sincerely sorry. Maybe they’ll prove it by buying the brick for the next Joe.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner