Flag-raising honor veterans home
Northern Virginia Daily
By Alex Bridges — email@example.com
Winchester — John S. Lewandowski lives in special house. But the wheelchair-bound, disabled veteran say many others like him need these kinds of homes and cannot afford them.
On Thursday, local veterans appeared for a flag-raising ceremony held by the Disabled Veterans Committee on Housing to commemorate the building of Lewandowski’s home at 147 Duwamish Trail in Shawneeland.
Taking part in the ceremony were American Legion Post 21, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2123, the Winchester chapter of the Korean War Veterans, the John F. Morrison Jr. Memorial Chapter 1019 of the Vietnam Veterans of America and the Stonewall Jackson Chapter 9 of the Disabled Veterans of America.
“It’s what the veterans need and I hope we can get a few more,” said Owen Johnston, commander of American Legion Post 21.
The house serves as the committee headquarters and office for Lewandowski, its president and chief executive officer. From this office, Lewandowski said, he will continue to help disabled veterans of all wars with housing and other needs.
“My thing is, I’m a veteran, I’m 100 percent disabled and I want to devote the rest of my life to helping other veterans, with my knowledge of how to get into specially adapted housing, or how to obtain grants for housing, or to get any type of things they need,” Lewandowski said after the ceremony.
R.L. Seely Homes built the home in three months, according to Lewandowski, and completed it in March.
Richard “Dick” Seely, executive director of the Disabled Veterans Committee on Housing, described the group as a “one-stop-shop” by which volunteers go to a disabled veterans home and work with them in either building an adapted home or renovate one to meet their needs.
Tammy Mitchell said the committee helped her and her husband, Daren, a disabled veteran, when the family entered a rough financial patch and they needed a wheelchair-accessible bathroom for their Stephens City home. Lewandowski put her in contact other veterans groups that have also helped the family, she said.
“If I could sum up him and his organization, it’s awe-inspiring,” Mitchell said.
Lewandowski compares the work he and the committee do to that of the ABC-TV show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”
“I call myself the Ty Pennington of the poor group and the reason why I say that is because Ty, he has all those corporate sponsors,” Lewandowski said, referring to the show’s host. “All I got is my voice and my telephone to handle everything, and I’ve been able to get corporations to work with us.”
The group is moving forward to build similar homes in Chesterfield County and Staunton, Lewandowski said.
His goal now is to start a group with representatives from all veteran organizations who then could work with other agencies to “see what we can do to better these veterans’ life.”
“That’s my goal — independence and freedom to do the things that they can’t do because of either their living conditions or restrictions they have with their life,” he said.