There are many nonprofits supporting veterans, and Jesse Brown of Plymouth welcomes them all.
“We’re all in this together,” said Brown, a Marine veteran who along with fellow veteran and business partner Matthew Mastroianni created Plymouth-based Heidrea for Heroes in 2013, a nonprofit that provides free adaptive home and vehicle modifications, wheelchair ramps, mobility equipment, and other support for qualified veterans and their families.
“The end goal is to help vets,” he said.
The partners served in the 1990s, started their own construction firm, and wanted to give back, forming Heidrea, an amalgam of their wives’ names, Heidi and Andrea. The nonprofit has helped more than 100 veterans in a variety of ways since its inception, Brown said.
“We just got a disabled Vietnam veteran in Rockland an all-terrain wheelchair; he had been an avid hunter but can’t walk,” he said. “Now he can get back out into the woods.
“And that’s the whole thing . . . giving veterans that independence and freedom they’re looking for and deserve,” he said.
Brown said Heidrea receives some funding from the state, which goes to administrative costs, including paying a small staff. He and Mastroianni get no money, he said, adding that all donations and money from fund-raisers goes directly to supporting veterans.
“We’ll sit with the veteran, find out what he or she needs. It could be a ramp, but they may not realize they’ll also need expanded doorways, for example,” Brown said. “We’re big into that kind of customized support.”
Heidrea works with other veterans support groups, he said, “building relationships with them. If there’s something we can’t help with, we know other organizations that can.”
He said he knows there are veterans who need help but won’t ask, so Heidrea works with veteran services agents to find them and offer assistance.
“That self-identification of need can be a problem sometimes — veterans are proud,” Brown said. “We let them know we’re there.”
Helping veterans gain independence, he said, “inspires them, breathes new life into them and their families. That’s the best thing in the world, to see that weight lifted off their shoulders.”
For more information, visit www.heidrea4heroes.org.Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.