Dale Beatty and John Gallina know what it's like to be seriously injured in war.
That's why they want to help fellow veterans through their Cornelius-based nonprofit, Purple Heart Homes.
The two Statesville buddies were wounded when a mine detonated through the floor of their Humvee in northern Iraq in 2004.
Beatty lost both legs below the knees. Gallina suffered brain trauma.
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Beatty, 31, and Gallina, 30, said many injured veterans need new homes when they return. Others need improvements to their homes, especially as the veterans age and can't do the repairs themselves. But too often they get no aid, they said.
Purple Heart Homes intends to help as many N.C. veterans in need as possible, Beatty and Gallina said.
They already have several N.C. veterans in mind as candidates for housing assistance, including in Mecklenburg, Catawba and Caldwell counties. They know of other N.C. veterans who are still receiving treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.
All the organization needs now is money, they said.
Purple Heart Homes has raised about $15,000 since receiving its 501 (c)(3) nonprofit status in 2008, "but that's not enough to care for one veteran," Beatty said.
They got a boost Dec. 16 with a $1,000 donation from Arkansas-based Aegis Therapies, which provides rehabilitative therapy in more than 1,000 facilities in 37 states, including two Charlotte locations.
Sandy Clifton of Weddington is the company's vice president of operations. Her husband, Toby Clifton, is a major in the N.C. National Guard who's serving in Iraq. She'd heard about Purple Heart Homes several months ago and thought it deserved one of her company's community service grants, she said. The company agreed.
Mecklenburg County commissioner Karen Bentley of Huntersville was on hand for the check presentation at Purple Heart Homes on Old Statesville Road.
Bentley urged Beatty and Gallina to appear before the full Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners, and the men said they would do so in early January.
Through the county, they hope to learn about grants and other funding sources their organization could apply for, they said.
Purple Heart Homes aims to help veterans of all wars. Two of the men Beatty and Gallina have in mind are Vietnam veterans.
One of the men renovated half his home over the years but now is physically unable to complete the work, Beatty said.
The man lives in a split-level home; it's no longer easy for him to negotiate the steps.
Purple Heart Homes hopes to install an elevator in the man's home.
"I get around better than he does, and I'm missing both legs," Beatty said.
Beatty said he's eligible for a $50,000 grant to build a home, but the Vietnam vet suffering the effects of Agent Orange exposure is not.
That's the kind of soldier Purple Heart Homes is out to help.