On a snow-kissed November morning upwards of 15 Veterans and currently serving members strapped on their hard hats to help construct housing during the first-ever Veteran Build Day as part of the Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa’s (Habitat GO) 2017 Military Building Program.
The Military Building Program, sponsored by Lockheed Martin, was established this year to give military members and Veterans a sense of purpose and opportunity to give back to their community.
Throughout the year, groups of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members have come out to help with Habitat GO projects.
The idea to designate a day for Veterans, says Habitat GO CEO Alexis Ashworth, came from discussions with Veterans Affairs Canada.
“They mentioned that Veterans can sometimes lose a sense of purpose when they retire from active service. We have a very active volunteer program and crew leaders who come to our site almost every day as volunteers and I thought veterans might really enjoy coming out to the site and having that sense of camaraderie and purpose,” said Ashworth.
Habitat GO then recruited Veterans through word of mouth and the help of MP for Orleans, LGen (ret’d) Andrew Leslie.
“It just reflects their determination to continue contributing to society, to their Veteran communities and pay back the love and respect that Canadians have for them,” said Leslie.
The Veterans, a mix of former Navy, Army and Air Force members, worked from dawn until dusk on Nov. 10, in minus ten degree weather.
“They work really fast because they’re disciplined and they’re used to working outside in adverse conditions. They’re cheerful and they can work as a team,” added Leslie.
The Veterans worked on four townhouses in Orleans that Habitat GO is currently building as part of the organization’s largest development to-date. The “Leacross Landing” project will eventually include 16 townhouses by 2019.
“It’s a great opportunity to get out and help the community,” said Sgt. Tom Antsy, one of the volunteers who came out on the Veteran Build Day.