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Local Home Depot, veterans team up to build ramp for Vietnam vet
Veteran Ramp 1
Members of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter #970 teamed up with representatives from the Dawsonville Home Depot on Nov. 2 to build a ramp outside the home of a local veteran. - photo by Allie Dean

 

It’s a sunny Thursday morning in Dawsonville and one residential street off Harmony Church Road is buzzing with activity.

Trucks line the road outside the residence of 72-year-old Hezzie Patrick, a Vietnam war veteran who has recently been struggling with getting in and out of his home.

Ten members of the local Vietnam Veterans of America chapter mingle with six men in orange shirts who have come from the Dawsonville Home Depot bearing tools and supplies.

They’re building a ramp over the front steps to Patrick’s home, who served four tours in the Vietnam War.

Fred Brown, Dawsonville Home Depot store manager, explained that Bill Martin, president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Dawson County Chapter No. 970, called him and told him about Patrick’s need for easier access to and from his home.

“Each year for Veterans Day we do a lot with the veterans, it's called Celebration of Service,” Brown said. “We kick off right at the beginning of September and run all the way through Veterans Day. Whatever a veteran needs- it could be yardwork, landscaping, siding houses, painting. Usually it's a job that we can get in and out in eight hours.”


Brown said the team had recently finished up siding on a house in Milton for an 82-year-old woman who was in the Air Force.

The group that does the work is called Team Depot, and all of the materials are sponsored through the Home Depot Foundation, which awards grants based on applications.

Brown said that the application has to come from a non-profit like the Vietnam veterans chapter, and that the work they can do does not include roofs, HVACS, major plumbing or electrical.

Grant approval takes around six to eight weeks, and the the team normally starts the project about four weeks after that, Brown said.

Had someone walked into Home Depot to purchase the materials and paid for the labor themselves, it would have cost around $6,000 to build the ramp, according to Team Depot leader Dennis Johnson, who was also on-site. The grant paid for $1,900 of materials, and the labor was provided by Home Depot employees donating their time.

“We’re very fortunate that they’re helping us out,” said Wayne Watkins, another member of Chapter 970.

Martin said he can be contacted at (706) 809-2573 if anyone wanted to inquire about the grant process.

A buzz saw whirred nearby as veterans and Team Depot workers gathered around a post newly placed in the ground in front of Patrick’s home, what would soon become part of a sturdy wooden ramp.

“We love when the veterans come out and work with us,” Brown said. “That makes the whole job really rewarding.”