Veterans Support Group Opens Local Office
A new office for helping disabled military men and women opened last week in Southern Pines.
Since its 2008 founding, Military Missions in Action (MMIA) has made homes more livable for the state's veterans. Its completed home modification projects in North Carolina represent more than $1 million in value of services provided to veterans with disabilities.
Southern Pines Mayor David McNeill welcomed MMIA founder Michael Dorman to the new office at 625 South Page St. The local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) made the space available, and a number of veterans and families were on hand to celebrate the opening.
"I heard Mike speak at Rotary here several months back and got to hear about the work that you do and the tremendous program now that you will be offering to military folks that need some help," McNeill said.
McNeill said he loved the name, because "action" is a key word.
"Doing - and helping others," he said. "We have so many military families finding out what a great place this is. The growth of this place over the past several years has been primarily military. We see this as a tremendous opportunity now to have a program here that - when a need arises - can provide resources. We welcome you to the Pines and wish for you the very best in your work for our community."
Dorman said MMIA was opening an office here because it was the "next best fit" to its home office in Fuquay-Varina.
"We do more work in Moore County than in any other county in the state," Dorman told the crowd. "It just made sense that this would be our next home. We have several members of our board of directors here with us today."
Jim Riley is chairman of the board, and drove down from the home office with others to help launch the new site.
"This is a wonderful turnout," Riley said. "We are just very excited to be here in Southern Pines, where we will grow even more helping veterans and active duty servicemen. Thank you for turning out."
The large number of military and veteran families who live in the Sandhills section meant this area had both a large pool of willing volunteers and a big need for the kind of help a private nonprofit like MMIA can provide.
As they explored the new office with its display of military memorabilia, many spoke of delays in federal and state programs that don't happen with programs like the ones MMIA operates. It can respond to needs much more quickly than any government agency.
MMIA isn't tied to any branch of service, doesn't have to ask whether veterans in need are retired.
"We remake their homes so they can live independently at no cost to them," Dorman said. "For any veteran who is disabled and cannot physically or financially take care of a safety hazard in their home, we'll go in and take care of that at no charge."
Home modifications enable independent living for disabled veterans on their return from service by making repairs of safety hazards, doing wheelchair modifications, building access ramps, adjusting countertop heights and widening doorways, and making numerous other household improvements.
The work is done by volunteers. Materials are donated or paid for with money from a variety of sources, including fundraising events. The organization doesn't get any government funding.
"We work in all 100 counties," project manager Tony Lennon said. "Some of our best volunteers are here in Moore County."
Lennon said their next project will be helping a veteran's home in Carthage.
"Right now we are waiting on the weather to dry," he said. "We're set to do the change-out."
Last month Dorman received the Presidential Citizens Medal in Washington, D.C., from President Barack Obama in recognition of his work with MMIA. It is the nation's second-highest civilian award.
Days later, he spoke to the Sandhills Chapter of the Military Officers Associ-ation of America at their monthly luncheon, where he announced plans to open this local office.
At Friday's opening, the chapter presented Dorman with a check for $500.
MMIA's projects have been accomplished as far west as Thomasville and as far east as Wilmington, and range in complexity from simple wheelchair ramps to major house renovations.
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or jfchappell @gmail.com.
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