Written by: John W. Barry
PATTERSON — Volunteers and donations are needed to help a Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient from Pawling rehabilitate his 100-year-old home.
While serving in the U.S. Army in the Mekong Delta in 1969, Daniel Flanigan suffered multiple wounds, including head injuries, when an enemy grenade exploded next to him during an ambush.
On Thursday, more than 100 people gathered at the Patterson Fire Department in Putnam County as officials issued a call for workers, volunteers, materials and donations to help Flanigan renovate his home with new insulation, new windows, a new bathroom and refurbished porches, among other improvements. Costs are still being assessed. Work is scheduled to begin in June and last four months.
“I am absolutely overwhelmed by it all and I’m very grateful and thankful for this opportunity,” Flanigan said shortly before Thursday’s event began. “It’s just a wonderful thing.”
The project is being coordinated by Purple Heart Homes, a nonprofit based in Statesville, N.C., that helps disabled veterans resolve housing issues. Flanigan suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, said Dale Beatty, co-founder and chairman of the board of directors for Purple Heart Homes. Beatty, an Army veteran who lost both legs in Iraq, attended Thursday’s event.
“The goal is to replicate the experience I had coming home, as an Iraq veteran,” said Beatty, who is from Statesville. “I was embraced with love and support from my town, from complete strangers. We just want to replicate that again for other veterans, like Dan Flanigan, who, being a Vietnam veteran, never received any — any of the recognition or support I have. The needs don’t change, regardless of what war you were in.”
Flanigan’s neighbor Ann Brosnan knew he needed help. She called the office of state Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, who, in addition to connecting Flanigan with Purple Heart Homes, worked with county officials to secure tax breaks for Flanigan that he was eligible for, but wasn’t receiving.
“What a wonderful thing the community is doing, coming together for him,” Brosnan said.
Ball called Flanigan a “hero.”
“This country does a very good job of getting young men and women to raise that right hand and be willing to fight and die for their country,” Ball said. “What we don’t do a good job of is transitioning veterans back into the civilian workforce. This is a hero, a man who took shrapnel to the head.”