Justin and Jennie Hendrickson

U.S. Navy veteran Justin Hendrickson (right) and his wife, Jennie, share a laugh as Justin shares the information on receiving a house from the Homes For Our Troops program.

Channellock Inc. is teaming up with Homes For Our Troops, a nationwide charity, to help provide homes for severely injured post-9/11 veterans.

Homes For Our Troops, a nonprofit agency based in Taunton, Mass., builds and donates custom homes designed to meet the needs of severely injured veterans and their families. Channellock, the Meadville-based maker of pliers and other hand tools, will be the charity's exclusive partner in the tool sector.

Channellock is making a substantial but undisclosed financial contribution, Channellock and Homes For Our Troops officials said in ceremonies Friday at Channellock's Meadville headquarters.

Channellock also will participate in homebuilding activities and promote the nonprofit agency in its marketing, said Ryan DeArment, Channellock's vice president of marketing.

"This one brings our products, our culture to a really noble cause — supporting veterans," DeArment said.

"We see what we do as a moral obligation — to provide for these troops and their families who have sacrificed so much," said Tom Landwermeyer, Homes For Our Troops' president and chief executive officer. "What we do by providing these homes is help repay them — in a very small part — a huge debt that is owed them by our country."

Since 2004, Homes For Our Troops has provided 248 homes to eligible veterans in 42 states, including 11 homes in Pennsylvania, Landwermeyer said. There are another 95 projects underway across the nation with three of them in Pennsylvania.

One of the three Pennsylvania families receiving a new home will be Justin and Jennie Hendrickson. The Hendricksons will have an adaptive home built for them in Marion Township, Butler County, in 2018.

Justin was a U.S. Navy medical corpsman who lost the lower part of right leg and sustained multiple other injuries on May 6, 2005. Justin was severely injured when the vehicle in which he was riding on patrol with a U.S. Marine unit ran over an IED, or improvised explosive device, near Al-Karmah, Iraq. The resulting explosion killed the driver and wounded Hendrickson and two others. Justin wears a prosthetic right leg and requires a wheelchair for his daily life.

Additionally, Jennie recently was diagnosed with brain cancer.

The Hendricksons' new home will be one floor and wheelchair accessible. The home the couple has now has a sunken living room and is two-stories, limiting Justin's access within the home if he doesn't use his prosthetic leg.

Wearing the prosthesis too long can cause pressure sores on his leg, too, Justin said.

Having a single-story, open floor plan home will change the Hendricksons' lifestyle, Justin said. 

"I'm not 100 percent disabled, so I still work," said Justin, a pediatric nurse at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh where he also is a nursing instructor. "This house is going to be all one floor and allow me to get into my wheelchair and out of my prosthetic. I'll be able to get out of it and rest, and my wife will be safe while I'm at work. Supporters like Channellock make this all possible."

What sold Channellock on backing the Homes For Our Troops program is its high ratings by charity watchdog groups and its high percentage use of its money for charitable purposes, DeArment said.

“As an American hand tool manufacturer that still makes tools in USA, and the employer of many veterans, patriotism is a big part of our corporate culture," DeArment said. "For Home For Our Troops, 90 cents of every dollar goes to the cause — it's not absorbed into overhead."

Partnering with companies such as Channellock as well as contributions from individuals is what makes the program work, according to Landwermeyer.

"Our ability to bring quality, specially adapted custom homes to our severely injured veterans is possible through the generosity of corporations and individuals who share our passion and loyalty to military veterans and their families," Landwermeyer said.

If a wounded veteran is eligible for a federal Veterans Administration special adaptive home grant, the veteran then may apply to Homes For Our Troops for a home, he said.

The eligible veteran chooses where to live, Landwermeyer said. The cost of construction — whether an adaptive remodel of an existing home or total new construction — is paid by Homes For Our Troops with licensed general contractors hired to do the work, he said.

The homes are not furnished, except for major appliances, Landwermeyer said. However, in various locations around the country, there have been cases were sponsors will provide furniture, he said.

The Hendricksons' new home in Butler County tentatively is scheduled to be ready for occupancy in July 2018, he said.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

You can help

Homes For Our Troops is a nonprofit charity that builds homes for severely injured post-9/11 veterans and then donates them to eligible veterans and their families.

• More information: Mail Homes For Our Troops, 6 Main St., Taunton, MA, 02780; call toll-free (866) 787-6677; or visit hfotusa.org online.

Did you know?

Channellock Inc. of Meadville was honored Friday by the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the American Revolution for its commitment to U.S. patriotism for Channellock's recent addition of its large flagpole display outside the company's plant off South Main Street.

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