Local veterans get a helping hand from House of Heroes

Local veterans get a helping hand from House of Heroes

A Vietnam Army veteran from East Berlin struggling with health issues and a disabled Navy combat vet from Rocky Hill who served in Kosovo and Saudi Arabia received help Memorial Day weekend – and a big thank you for their service – in the way of much-needed, no-cost home repairs thanks to the veteran service organization House of Heroes Connecticut.

The veterans served were 70-year-old Bruce Bodley of 63 Main St., East Berlin, and 40-year-old Melissa Michaud-Maltese of 439 Pleasant Valley Road, Rocky Hill.

Volunteers provided help to Bodley in the way of a new handicap ramp, a more accessible, retrofitted bathroom and smoke detectors, while Michaud-Maltese was helped with a variety of interior and exterior repairs along with landscaping.

“This weekend marks House of Heroes Connecticut’s seventh anniversary honoring service and sacrifice by helping Connecticut vets in need,” HOHCT Executive Director Dennis Buden said in the lead-up to Memorial Day. “We are pleased and privileged to honor these veterans and provide them with the assistance they need to make their lives better.”

Bodley is a New Britain native who grew up in East Berlin, on Main Street, a short distance from the home he owns today. He was drafted into the Army in 1968 not long after graduating from Berlin High School – but served his country willingly and with great resolve, having been inspired by his World War II veteran father.

Bodley specialized in electronics and communications, and served with the 521st Signal Company, 11th Signal Group out of Fort Huachuca, Arizona. He was deployed to Vietnam in May of 1969 and returned home the following April. He completed his active duty in 1971 and served an additional three years in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Bodley had a 32-year-career with the West Harford-based Wiremold Company, and as a long-time Lions Club member was a fixture for years as the superintendent of the sheep and swine building at the Berlin Fair.

For his Lions service, Bodley has been awarded the prestigious Lions Club International Melvin Jones Fellow Award for Dedicated Humanitarian Service and the Connecticut Lions Eye Research Foundation’s Knight of the Blind Award.

Michaud-Maltese is a Hartford native who, like Bodley, grew up in Berlin. Inspired by her Air Force veteran uncle, the then-Melissa Lopez joined the Navy in 1998 seeking to, as she says, “do something meaningful with my life.” Over the course of her seven-year Navy career she served as a Ship’s Serviceman aboard the U.S.S. Inchon, the U.S.S. Eisenhower and the U.S.S. Bulkeley, and her service took her to danger zones including Kosovo and Saudi Arabia.

Michaud-Maltese was injured both in boot camp and aboard ship and, as an 80-percent-disabled veteran, deals with her orthopedic injuries to this day. Proud to have served her country and proud of her status as a female veteran, today she is a special education teacher at Bristol Central High School.

House of Heroes Connecticut recognizes, honors and serves military and public safety veterans and/or their surviving spouses for their sacrificial service to America. The organization provides one-day, no-cost home improvements with a priority placed on safety and accessibility.

The Connecticut Chapter is part of a national organization founded in January 2000, in Columbus, Georgia. More than 1,000 projects have been completed nationwide.

For more information about House of Heroes Connecticut, to nominate a veteran, volunteer for a project, or donate to the cause, visit hohct.org.

-- Press Release


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