No one understands the needs of veterans like a fellow veteran, as Jesse Brown of Plymouth, Massachusetts is proving beyond a doubt. A former Marine, Brown established Heidrea for Heroes – a nonprofit organization supplying home and vehicle modifications, equipment, and various other kinds of support to veterans and their families absolutely free of charge – back in 2013 with the help of Matthew Mastroianni, another veteran.
"We're all in this together," Brown told the Boston Globe.
"The end goal is to help vets," Mastroianni, Brown's business partner, added.
Heidrea for Heroes' origins begin in the 1990s, when Brown and Mastroianni served. According to Heidrea's website, Brown was a Marine Corps field radio operator whose service stations included Camp Pendleton and Okinawa, Japan. Mastroianni, also a former Marine, is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In their life after service, the men founded their own construction firm and saw real success before agreeing that they wanted to help other veterans in some way. Heidrea – a combination of Heidi and Andrea, their wives' names – was the result.
So far, the Globe reported that more than 100 veterans in the Plymouth area have been recipients of the nonprofit's efforts.
"We just got a disabled Vietnam veteran in Rockland an all-terrain wheelchair; he had been an avid hunter but can't walk. Now he can get back out into the woods," said Brown. "And that's the whole thing…giving veterans that independence and freedom they're looking for and deserve."
Some of the organization's funds come from the state, but Brown and Mastroianni say they take none for themselves. Every single donation goes straight to helping veterans, some of whom are stubborn about accepting help.
"That self-identification of need can be a problem sometimes – veterans are proud," Brown explained to the Globe. "We let them know we're there."