This Annual Event Thanks U.S. Vets Through Renovations on Veterans Day
What better way to give back to those who served than by giving them the bathtub or shower of their dreams this Veterans Day? That’s just what Baths for the Brave does, with the help of local contractors.
Those who have served our country understand commitment, sacrifice, and duty, and the nation shows its appreciation for these men and women every Nov. 11. But for the past few years, in celebration of Veterans Day, a Wisconsin-based organization has done more than merely pay lip service to our vets.
Baths for the Brave partners with contractors in several states to help provide a new bath or shower system at no cost to a servicemember.
How Baths for the Brave Started
In 2016 employees of Kaukauna, Wisc.,-based Tundraland Home Improvements learned of Mike Alsteen, a Green Bay veteran of Desert Storm. Alsteen has multiple sclerosis and needed an accessible bathroom, and Tundraland wanted to do something about it.
To keep the renovation a surprise, Tundraland sent Alsteen and nine of his family members on a day trip. They received an on-field tour of iconic Lambeau Field and then headed to the Resch Center’s arena to meet the Green Bay Gamblers hockey team. At the same time, without Alsteen’s knowledge, a crew was at his home renovating his bathroom, giving him an accessible bathtub.
And so, Baths for the Brave began.
How the Renovations Work
Today, Baths for the Brave partners with local contractors to expand its reach and impact the lives of more veterans. The organization accepts nominations from the loved ones, neighbors, and friends of veterans, and they choose some of the vets to help each year by renovating bathrooms poorly designed to meet the needs of aging and disabled vets. Partnered home improvement companies surprise the winners in October with a big check and full design team. Then, during the week preceding Veterans Day, these teams renovate the vets’ bathrooms, unveiling the new bathtub or shower system on Veterans Day.
How Baths for the Brave helps these veterans depends on their circumstances. In some cases, expert contractors may install a walk-in bathtub. In other circumstances, they may help a veteran replace their old, leaky bathtub with a brand new shower system, all free of charge to the veteran and their family.
Baths for the Brave Partners
In the 6 years since Baths for the Brave started, Tundraland has partnered with mostly family-owned remodeling contractors across the country. With these companies to lean on, the Baths for the Brave organization has been able to spread its reach and help more veterans.
Along with Tundraland, Baths for the Brave partners with Alenco in Lenexa, Kan., Bath Experts in Cincinnati, Ohio, Jacuzzi Bath Remodel in Arizona, Jacuzzi Bath Remodel in Oregon, Lori K Bath in Valparaiso, Ind., Midwest Bath Co. in Moline, Ill., Reborn Cabinets oin Anaheim, Calif., and NEWPRO Home Solutions in Woburn, Mass.
Highlighting Two Veterans
The team at Bob Vila learned of Baths for the Brave through Massachusetts-based NEWPRO Home Solutions. They’ve partnered with the organization for 6 years, but this year they’re able to help two veterans: Edward DeMars of Springfield, Mass., and Otis Moon of East Hartford, Conn.
DeMars is a Vietnam and Gulf War veteran who served in the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force. After a series of surgeries on his back, knees, and shoulders, he has limited mobility. His son, Joshua, nominated him, and the NEWPRO team decided to help out.
Moon was a fuel specialist on flight lines in the U.S. Air Force in the 1970s. Otis now uses a wheelchair, so his granddaughter, Tenirah, nominated him to have his bathroom remodeled in order to make his life safer and easier.
“No one should ever have to worry about bathing safely in their own home,” says Marci Katz, vice president of NEWPRO. “We are honored to be able to continue to give back to those who have sacrificed so much for our country.”
DeMars and Otis received their bath remodels on Nov. 10.
How You Can Show Support, Too
You don’t need to start a remodeling company and replace bathtubs to show your support for those who served in the military. Small gestures such as swapping out your porch light bulb for one in a green hue show you’re thinking of these brave men and women. To make more of an impact this Veterans Day, sponsor an Honor Flight, organize a fundraiser for the Wounded Warrior Project, or get involved in a program like Building Homes for Heroes. There are plenty of ways to help.