VETERAN STORIES

The Baths for the Brave team is on a mission to help the brave men and women who have served our country. Take a moment to read the stories of these veterans and the positive impact our team is making on their lives. It is important to us to honor and serve those who have sacrificed their lives to protect our freedoms. We thank all of our current and former service men and women!

Nate Dufriend

United States Marine Corps Veteran

The war in the Middle East, which started after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, is now the longest-running war in American history spanning nearly 16 years. Many of the nation’s young men and women are coming back to the U.S. after serving multiple tours overseas.

That was the case for Nate Dufriend of Hutchinson, Kansas. He is a retired United States Marine who served from 2003 to 2014 and was stationed in more places than he can count.

Although Dufriend made it back home, it’s been a struggle for him and his family. While serving two missions overseas, Dufriend was shot in the head. He was a gunner for the Marines.

Recovery has been extensive, and since returning he has had to face getting a divorce, still being a good father to his four children ages 5 to 11 and battling thoughts of suicide.

A new shower that’s walk-in accessible will make a world of difference for Dufriend as he continues to heal from the wounds of war.

“It’s people like this that we’re trying to help,” said Allen Erskine, president and owner of Alenco. “War is an incomprehensible concept for those who have never experienced it, and we want our soldiers and  veterans to know they’re loved, they’re respected, their service matters and we won’t forget you – in fact we want to thank you.”

On Wednesday, Nov. 8, Dufriend will be honored with nearly a dozen other military veterans across the United States as home improvement companies join forces to say thank you in an act of service to those who’ve served our nation defending our freedom.

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“I’m absolutely speechless. I really need something like this. I haven’t had something done for me in a long time and it’s nice to see someone is willing to finally do something to help me.”

– Nate Dufriend

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Richard Paylor

United States Army Veteran

Richard Paylor is from Leasburg, North Carolina. He served in the U.S. Army from 1965 to 1967, where he was stationed in South Korea to guard the border from North Korean missile strikes.

Paylor was shocked to learn he had been selected as Bryton’s veteran for this year’s Baths for the Brave shower remodel.

“Being able to have my shower remodeled from its original 1974 style to something more accessible and up-to-date is incredible,” Paylor said. “This will allow me to keep my independence longer and not have to worry about falls for me or my wife.”

Paylor is currently disabled and lives with his wife Mary. They have two grown children together named Catherine and LaToya.

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“This will allow me to keep my independence longer and not have to worry about falls for me or my wife.”

– Richard Paylor

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Anthony Battaglia

United States Army Veteran

Anthony Battaglia has struggled with limited mobility for many years. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War as an engineer, but was injured while serving and came home to face struggles in everyday life and tasks like bathing and showering.

Battaglia had an in-home care provider assisting him with many of these everyday tasks to ease the burden on his wife, but recently that help stopped.

“The woman who was coming to help him a couple days a week has stopped. Now it’s me,” Battaglia’s wife said.

Fairbanks Construction knew the struggle the family was facing and showed up to surprise the Battaglias. You can see that reveal below. 

Upon learning they had been chosen as the recipient of a new shower through the Baths for the Brave program, Battaglia couldn’t help but grin from ear to ear saying, “now I don’t have to reach 15 feet to get out of the shower; that’s fantastic!”

Battaglia is looking forward to his new, easy-access shower and the relief it will bring to him and his family.

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“Now I don’t have to reach 15 feet to get out of the shower; that’s fantastic!”

– Anthony Battaglia

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Sargent Billy Bond

United States Army National Guard

Billy Bond of Chattanooga, Tennessee, served in the U.S. Army National Guard from 2001 to 2010, and served two tours in Iraq; the first from 2004 to 2005 and the second from 2008 to 2009.

During his time overseas, Bond unfortunately suffered a traumatic brain injury and is now currently on military disability and unable to work. His wife, Sedara, helps him with many of his day-to-day activities such as taking a shower. She says the shower is a special place for her husband.

“He has trouble sleeping and has nightmares regularly, but it seems bathing or showering really relaxes him,” said Sedara. “To be chosen for Baths for the Brave is a dream come true because this will make life so much easier.”

Hullco is proud to offer the Bond family a new shower to help them with daily activities and is excited to be partnering with nine other home improvement companies from across the nation for the first-ever Baths for the Brave event.

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“To be chosen for Baths for the Brave is a dream come true because this will make life so much easier.”

– Sedara Bond

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Paul Dunn

United States Air Force Veteran

Paul Dunn is a New Orleans native who served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War. He was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, and Orlando, Florida, and was part of the security police on top secret missions.

“Many times our Vietnam War veterans weren’t really given the acknowledgement and honor for their time in the service, despite having gone through some incredibly difficult things,” said Larry Closs, president and CEO of MaxHome. “We’re honored to be able to take this day to show Paul how much his military service is appreciated.”

Dunn now has four grown daughters, and as he continues to age, simple tasks begin to get harder. This shower remodel will help make life for Dunn in his own home more manageable.

“I appreciate the opportunity tremendously, and I was incredibly humbled to learn I was the veteran being chosen for this honor,” Dunn said.

Dunn is one of nearly a dozen veterans across the nation who will get a new shower on Wednesday, Nov. 8.

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“I appreciate the opportunity tremendously and I was incredibly humbled to learn I was the veteran being chosen for this honor.”

– Paul Dunn

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Ryan Bugler

United States Marine Corps Veteran

Ryan Bugler, a Marine Corps veteran from Dracut, Massachusetts, was selected by NEWPRO Home Improvement Solutions for this year’s first-ever Baths for the Brave event. Bugler joined the Marines right out of high school, and upon retiring from the military, he continued to serve others as a firefighter and paramedic for the Town of Lexington, Massachusetts, and later in Pelham, New Hampshire. It was during his time as a firefighter that Bugler was critically injured and forced to quit his job. Ever since that injury, life has been hard for Bugler.

“I’m very humbled to have been selected for Baths for the Brave,” Bugler said. “I have a spinal cord injury that keeps me in a wheelchair 90 percent of the time, and I have not been able to shower in my house because getting out of the tub is too dangerous for me, so I was about ready to take a saw to the tub to create and opening for easier and safer access.”

This new shower remodel will be installed on Nov. 8, free of charge to Bugler, as a thank you for his military service.

“Supporting a veteran is something near and dear to me, as my father served for our country,” said Nick Cogliani, owner of NEWPRO. “Any time we can help our community, and especially those who’ve fought for our freedom to live a better life, it’s a no brainer for me.”

Bugler currently has a service dog named Noonan, a 5-year-old black lab who helps him around the house. In addition to his helper, Bugler has found a passion for helping his fellow veterans, despite his injury.

“I have found partaking in veteran events in the same family-type atmosphere as the military has helped me cope with the injuries I have and move on and continue life,” said Bugler. “I appreciate life so much more today despite the injury, and being selected for this will relieve a lot of stress and help me to continue to live independently on my own.”

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“I have a spinal cord injury that keeps me in a wheelchair 90 percent of the time and I have not been able to shower in my house because getting out of the tub is too dangerous for me, so I was about ready to take a saw to the tub to create and opening for easier and safer access.”

– Ryan Bugler

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Ronald Bobincheck

United States Army Veteran

Ronald Bobincheck is originally from Grindstone, Pennsylvania. He served in the U.S. Army from 1959 to 1962 where he was stationed in Fort Leonard Wood Missouri, Karls Rue and Germany.

During his time in Germany Bobincheck was stationed where they were building the Berlin Wall when the Russians put up a road block on the only road to Berlin. Bobincheck and his fellow soldiers were woken up in the middle of the night and ordered to hold their positions on the Rhine River to delay the Warsaw Pak for four minutes.

“We knew that there was a chance that we may only live for those four minutes,” explained Bobincheck when recalling the event.

Fortunately, Bobincheck made it out of Germany and back home to his wife and three kids, but  understands all-too-well how short life is. He lost one of his sons in a tragic vehicle accident, which has taken a toll on Bobincheck and his wife.

“It means a lot to be helping those who’ve done so much already for our country,” said Anthony Nardo, chief financial officer for Reborn Cabinets in Anaheim, California. “The Bobincheck family has already gone through so much, and our hope is that this shower remodel will help put a bright spot in their lives.”

Currently Bobincheck is working as a bakery manager, but says being chosen for Baths for the Brave has given him a renewed sense of hope.

“There is now hope for the U.S. private citizens to take care of veterans. This helps me know that as I continue to age, I will be able to care for myself and preserve my dignity, as a man, longer,” Bobincheck said.

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“There is now hope for the U.S. private citizens to take care of veterans. This helps me know that as I continue to age, I will be able to care for myself and preserve my dignity, as a man, longer.”

– Ronald Bobincheck

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Christopher Spencer

United States Army Veteran

Christopher Spencer, from Hillside, Illinois, is a retired U.S. Army veteran. He enlisted in the infantry and served during the Vietnam War from 1967 to 1970.

During Spencer’s time in the military, he was stationed in Missouri for basic training and later in For Polk, Louisiana. He was then sent to Japan and Korea for two weeks to help capture the Pueblos  being held in Korea.

Spencer was injured during the Vietnam War and returned home as a disabled veteran. Since then, life has been hard.

“A new bath would greatly improve the lives of me and my partner,” Spencer said. “Anything that can help ease the burden of basic, everyday tasks will make a huge impact on our lives.”

Tiger Bath Solutions is proud to be partnering with Baths for the Brave and helping veterans like Spencer from all across the country.

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“A new bath would greatly improve the lives of me and my partner. Anything that can help ease the burden of basic, everyday tasks, will make a huge impact on our lives.”

– Christopher Spencer

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Norman Bodway

United States Marine Corps Veteran

Norman Bodway is a retired Marine from Appleton, Wisconsin, who served in the Korean War from 1951 to 1953. During his years of service, he showed many acts of bravery, including saving the life of his fellow marine whose arm was severed during combat. For that act of courage, Bodway was awarded a Bronze Star, which represents bravery, by the U.S. military.

Although Bodway is incredibly humble about his time in the military, he gave more to this country than he realizes. Not only did Bodway help defend the freedom of all Americans, he also helped save the lives of his brothers in combat, allowing them to return home to their families.

“Bodway is an incredibly inspiring person and I can’t think of someone more deserving of a new shower,” said Tundraland Home Improvements owner, Brian Gottlieb. “When we were searching for who we wanted to do this for, we wanted to make sure we would be making a difference for them. I truly believe that’s the case with Norman.”

After returning to civilian life, Bodway owned a small construction company, but has since retired from that line of work.

Tundraland Home Improvements coined the idea of Baths for the Brave two years ago with a much smaller event called Crash the Bath in northeast Wisconsin. Since beginning that program, it has helped numerous veterans improve their quality of life with basic everyday tasks like taking a shower.

“There’s nothing more empowering than keeping your independence,” said Gottlieb. “For us to be able to provide that for someone, while showing them we respect and honor their military service, for me that’s the true meaning behind what we do – giving back – that’s what it’s all about.”

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“Being selected for Baths for the Brave makes me extremely prideful to finally see that my sacrifices have not gone unnoticed or been forgotten.”

– Norman Bodway

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Gail Wise

United States Marine Corps Veteran

Gail Wise is a retired Marine. She served during the Cold War from 1981 to 1987 and was stationed in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.

Wise worked in the supply unit that served all the aviation needs, from nuts and bolts to jet engines. While she was serving her country, Wise was hit in the head during an auto accident.

“I was in a coma for two weeks, unconscious for two months and paralyzed in a wheelchair,” said Wise. “I was supposed to die in three days, so the military sent my family to Hawaii. I was supposed to be a vegetable, and I was supposed to never walk again.”

Wise beat all the odds, and she is currently working with Lebanon Veteran’s Hospital’s therapy program with the hopes that she will be able to walk again.

“The determination and grit Gail shows is the very reason we chose her as our recipient for the new shower,” said B. J. Werzyn, president of West Shore. “She is the definition of a true hero and we want to make her life a little easier so she can regain more of her independence that she’s been fighting so hard to achieve.”

Even though Wise no longer serves her country, she hasn’t walked away from her Marine roots. She serves her community through multiple Marine Corps leagues, Toys for Tots, the Color Guard and several other Marine-related organizations.

“God still has plans for me,” said Wise. “I still have disabilities, but I don’t expect pity from anyone. I’m a United States Marine.”

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“God still has plans for me. I still have disabilities, but I don’t expect pity from anyone, I’m a United States Marine.”

– Gail Wise

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