U.S. Navy veteran Andre Hughes got the surprise of his life when he received a special gift for his service, both in uniform and out.
That was thanks to the kind folks at Veterans United Home Loans, who made sure he would remember this Veterans Day forever!
Every year on Nov. 11, America takes the day to honor and thank her military veterans.
And while it’s wonderful to have this special day on the calendar, veterans deserve our thanks all year round — not only for their service while in uniform, but also for their lifetime of community service thereafter.
After service, veterans rejoin neighborhoods and contribute to making them stronger, while continuing a lifetime of service within their communities:
• Veterans volunteer 160 hours per year on average.
• Veterans are six times more likely to become firefighters.
• Over 17,000 veterans participated in the federal Troops to Teachers Program.
• 17.7% of veterans are involved in civic groups, versus 5.8% of non-veterans.
“The same impulses and character that lead to military service often lead to a lifetime of service,” said Pam Swan, military spouse and VP of Military Relations at Veterans United Home Loans.
“Their service does not end once they take off their uniforms – it continues for a lifetime.”
For veteran Andre Hughes, who served in the U.S. Navy for eight years, his volunteer work focused on food scarcity and economic mobility in Matthews, N. C. He also created and delivered food baskets to those in need throughout COVID-19.
To give back to veterans like Hughes who give so much to us all, Veterans United Home Loans — a full-service mortgage lender headquartered in Columbia, Mo. — made it their mission to help veterans use their hard-earned VA Home Loan benefit to become homeowners.
But this year, the VUHL is going above and beyond their call of duty with a very special event.
#ThanksToVeterans home giveaway
This Veterans Day, as a way to say #ThanksToVeterans for all they have done and continue to do, Veterans United Home Loans will be giving away 10 homes, with an 11th home to be given away via sweepstakes.
“These Veterans not only put their lives on the line to defend the U.S., but continue to give back to their families and communities every single day,” said Swan. “They are representative of a larger community of Veterans, our friends and neighbors, who make an impact on our lives every day.”
In order to select the recipients of the homes, VUHL found 10 exceptional men and women who continue to serve after putting away their uniforms.
“We wish we could recognize all the veterans who continue to make a difference, but we are so proud of these 10 service members we’ve selected,” said Swan.
For Hughes, being chosen as one of the 10 recipients felt like a dream.
“When I learned I would be receiving a home from Veterans United, I [at] first thought it was a joke someone was playing,” Hughes said. “I have obviously heard and watched programs where things like this occurred, but I never in a million years thought that something like this could happen to me.”
The Navy veteran recounted feeling undeserving, thankful, and overwhelmed upon receiving the news.
“Once I looked into my daughter’s eyes and I knew it was real, I felt relief and I could feel months of stress leaving my body. I was told there were tears, but I can neither confirm or deny those rumors!” Hughes said.
According to Swan, being a homeowner means having someplace that’s your own to return to. “For military families, that’s really special.”
Saying #ThanksToVeterans all year round
Considering all that veterans do for our country, civilians might wonder how they can properly say “thank you” — both on Nov. 11, and all year round.
But according to Hughes, most veterans aren’t looking for any kind of thanks.
“The majority of veterans do not seek recognition for their service,” said Hughes. “The majority of us are just looking for a fair shot at jobs, services, and opportunities in the civilian world when we leave active duty.”
In fact, when it comes to showing appreciation, the U.S. Navy veteran feels it might be civilians who deserve his praise. “I’d like to thank [civilians]. No veteran could have served without the support of their civilian family and friends.”
Despite veterans not looking for our thanks, many civilians still wish to show their appreciation — and really, the most powerful “thank you” of all might simply be remembering them.
“I believe the biggest thanks most veterans could receive is to know they will not be forgotten when their service is over,” said Hughes.
“Today, veterans still make up over 10% of the homeless population. The suicide rate for veterans is 1.5 times that of civilians. Aging veterans still find it hard to get adequate care and medical attention,” he continued.
“The best way to say #ThanksToVeterans is to continue to provide services that will help them reintegrate into civilian life and live rewarding lives outside of the military.”
To all the veterans in our lives: thank you
While most of us don’t have the ability to show our appreciation in the form of a new home, we can still find ways to make Veterans Day special for the service people in our lives.
“Just about everyone has a Veteran who made an impact on their life, whether it was a parent, family member, friends, teacher, coach or first responder,” said Swan.
“Veterans Day is a great reminder to thank the Veterans who have helped us. Veterans truly make our communities stronger, better places to be.”
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