Home Depot lends support to local Army vet
by Matt Shinall
Sep 30, 2012 | 3528 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Home Depot Vet Project
Cartersville Home Depot Associate Brendan Bechard, right, helps replace a deck at the home of Army veteran Matt Akers as Akers digs a drainage ditch. Local Home Depot employees volunteered their time Saturday as part of a corporate-wide effort to support veterans and their families. MATT SHINALL/The Daily Tribune News
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Matt Akers spent a total of 30 months in Iraq over the course of two deployments serving in the U.S. Army as a combat medic attached to a company of combat engineers in the 3rd Infantry Division. After all he did, a few gracious volunteers felt compelled to give back any way they could.

In coordination with Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit organization aimed at helping veterans after they return home, about 15 Home Depot employees chipped in Saturday to improve and beautify the Akers’ Euharlee home.

After six years active duty, Akers now serves in the National Guard and lives in Euharlee with his wife Jessica and their 21-month-old son. Matt Akers, recipient of a Bronze Star during his time in Iraq, helped Home Depot volunteers landscape his yard and rebuild their back deck. Humble and grateful for the support, Akers was shocked by the volunteers’ willingness to help — all were taking unpaid time off to lend a hand and at least one came out during his vacation.

“It’s amazing. I can’t even believe it. I’m still in shock. It still doesn’t feel real,” Akers said.

In addition to Home Depot employees swinging hammers, picks and shovels, neighbors also saw a need and pitched in to help. Some brought over ATVs, others ice or refreshments, while one neighbor insisted on preparing a spaghetti lunch for all the volunteers.

“It means a lot that people are so willing to come take time out of their own day. You just don’t expect it. But we really appreciate it. We live in an amazing community,” Jessica Akers said. “Home Depot is here, Operation Homefront is coming and we have such amazing neighbors. They have all been so involved. Our neighbors are making everyone lunch and our neighbors are like our family, which is nice because in active duty we were used to having the families from the post all around us and now coming here to have the support of everybody really makes it feel like home.

“It means a lot to military families that are transitioning from the active duty world to the civilian world during this recession with the lack of jobs and all the big changes emotionally — having this support makes the transition easier.”

In 2011, Home Depot committed $30 million to veteran housing projects and in 2012 has already surpassed their goals of giving and pledged another $50 million over the next three years. During the month of September, Home Depot is adding a special emphasis to veteran support and has projects in place across the country. The local Home Depot district has completed six projects this month alone, including one in Adairsville conducted by the Jasper and Canton Home Depot stores.

“We’ve got a set of core values as a company and one of them is giving back. So we were just fortunate enough to come out here and give back to this family,” said Cartersville Home Depot Store Manager Matt Sellers. “What he did was something I could never do. What we’re doing pales in comparison to the sacrifices this man made for us, as well as the hundreds of other veterans Home Depot is helping out. As a company, we value what they have done for us. So if we can come out and dig some holes and put some boards up, that’s a pretty small way to say thank you.”