It was Sunday night August 17, 2006 when the smoke rose above the skyline in Glastonbury and embers billowed from the once proud hall of the Veterans of Foreign Wars meeting hall. Many of the irreplaceable historical items were gone forever but the memories of members were still in tact, some held in the recovered ash covered album of photos and in the hearts of members.
For the veterans the horrors of war will never be forgotten and they will always remember their brothers and sisters in uniform. Their building was gone, so too were the 15 cases of donations awaiting shipment. Donations destined for a war zone that should have gone to the Marines of Charlie Company serving in Fallujah.
Fast forward to 2011 the site is now cleared of debris and yet some ash may remain on the grounds. “From tragedy, there is always a silver lining,” Glastonbury Councilman Kurt P. Cavanaugh said. “Like the phoenix rising from the ashes, this is a very appropriate spot for a Purple Heart home. I’m confident people will put their arms around the project and welcome this veteran to our town.”
The Councilman was speaking about a home for Manny Jimenez a marine veteran that recently has called Walter Reed National Military Medical Center home, as he recovers from injuries sustained in Afghanistan. Construction on a new three bedroom home for Manny is expected to start soon on the burned out site of the old VFW. The project is being organized by Purple Heart Homes a non-profit veteran operated organization dedicated to providing housing solutions for disabled veterans.
While Corporal Manny Jimenez is suffering from a high left shoulder amputation, loss of hearing in his left ear, and partial sight loss in his left eye he has not lost his dreams for the future. Manny didn’t grow up in Glastonbury, in fact he graduated from New Britain High School, he was an avid competitive runner, and says he wants to become a physical education instructor..
Purple Heart Homes will work with a general contractor to build the house, but like a community barn raising they will also seek volunteers from various professional trades to help with the project. Money to cover the cost will come from donations and other initiatives according to Purple Heart Homes.
The role and inspiration for Purple Heart Homes was effectively stated by a PHH representative saying, “As a soldier, we train not to leave comrades behind. We will not leave our veterans behind. … We are not here to give handouts; we are here to give a hand up,”
Vicki Thomas, a spokeswoman for Purple Heart Homes said, “From our experience the most vital ingredient to make the project for Manny a huge success is community involvement,” Ground breaking for the home is expect to be in November and you have the opportunity now to become involved in your own way.
Manny Jimenez was there for you and now you can be there for Manny. Volunteers may sign up at http://www.purplehearthomesusa.org and those wishing to donate to the effort may send a check made out to Purple Heart Homes for Manny Jimenez; American Eagle Federal Credit Union, 109 Sycamore St. Glastonbury, CT., 06033-4517.