POUGHKEEPSIE JOURNAL: PAWLING VETERAN GETS HELP WITH HOME
By: Nina Schutzman
About 15 years ago, Dan Flanigan, a disabled Vietnam War veteran, inherited his parents’ century-old home.
His parents had inherited the Spring Street home in Pawling in 1970 from his grandmother, said Flanigan, 66.
But the once-beautiful home had fallen into disarray over the years.
“It’s an old, old house,” said Flanigan, who served in the Army and is 100 percent service-connected disabled. “With all the expenses and the taxes here, I’ve been barely able to keep up.”
The home has no insulation and the oil bills are “astronomical,” added the Purple Heart recipient who works at the nearby Hannaford.
Enter state Sen. Greg Ball and Purple Heart Homes, a nonprofit that provides housing solutions for disabled veterans and their families.
Ball, R-Patterson, started looking for a veteran to help in September.
Flanigan’s neighbor recommended him for the program, said Krista Gobins, Ball’s director of programs.
“I didn’t know much about the organization but when I heard about it… I thought in my heart, ‘could this be true?’ Now everything is coming to fruition,” Flanigan said.
The Pawling veteran, who is living in his home while the restoration takes place, has been injured in ways visible and not.
On a May morning in 1969, Flanigan was in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. A hand grenade exploded near him, spraying shrapnel into his head, Ball’s office said in a news release. Besides the injuries he sustained, he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and nightmares.
“Dan is a hero in our community,” said Ball, a U.S. Air Force veteran. “This is a man who was in battle… he was in a home that was about to fall down and didn’t even have a working shower.”
Flanigan doesn’t consider himself a hero.
“I’m just one of the fortunate ones who made it back from Vietnam,” he said.
Construction on the Pawling home began in mid-June, with the demolition of the front porch.
“We started with a dilapidated home… trees were falling through the front porch,” said general contractor Robert Farese. “The inside of the house is OK, but it’s dated.”
Farese is one of the volunteers helping out; there have been many in the community, from neighbors who bring snacks, to a retired New York City firefighter who shows up to paint the house, who have made the project possible.
Flanigan is “emotionally attached to this structure, so we’re going to make it like it was brand-new,” Farese said. “I’m sure that’s going to change his life. I can see the change already. He’s ecstatic.”
Since the project began, a new front and back porch have been built and plumbing for a new bathroom is underway, according to information from Ball’s office. Fresh paint, electrical work and a new kitchen and upgrades in a second bathroom are also due.
“I greatly look forward to the day that Dan can proudly enjoy his new home,” said James Schmitt, owner of Schmitt Brothers Contracting, a company that volunteered services, via news release. “We are honored to help in completely renovating the home of this war hero.”
They hope to have the home finished by September. Project organizers have raised money for expenses, and want to have another fundraiser soon.
The project has been a great blessing, Flanigan said.
“This would make my parents so proud,” the veteran said of the restoration. (ARTICLE)