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For more than two weeks in August, a team of carpenters, plumbers and electrical workers descended upon local Vietnam veteran Robert Gentle’s home, performing renovations free of charge to help him move around more freely — and to thank him for his service.

ABC Connecticut Chapter’s community service project, “Open Shop Salute,” provides services to military veterans and their families at no cost. In conjunction with the National Guard, the chapter spearheads efforts to help military families in need, be it those who have a loved one currently serving or veterans. Through the generosity of ABC members, business partners, and member suppliers, Open Shop Salute helps with repairs and updates to the homes of those we need it most.

Diagnosed with Post-traumatic stress disorder, Gentle, 63, served in Vietnam from 1972 to 1975 as part of Supply Service Battalion Unit 277. Nerve damage, back problems and diabetes have limited his ability to perform simple tasks. Gentle said he had been attempting to tackle home renovations little by little in recent years, but was getting behind. His wife, Doreen Gentle, heard about a program that provided home renovation assistance to veterans and their families while working at Stop & Shop. “I went to the Department of Veterans Affairs in Middletown and spoke to Chris Syrek, president of the Associated Builders and Contractors Connecticut Chapter” she said. “I told him that my husband was a veteran and asked if he had any programs that could help us. We greatly appreciate what he has been able to do for us.”

“We help veterans and their families as well as work to fix up the homes of those actively serving abroad if something happens while they are gone,” said Syrek. “We have a good relationship with veterans’ organizations throughout the state, and they let us know about those in need. We then contribute financially, and our member companies send volunteers to help.” “The Gentles are a fantastic family,” Syrek added. “Robert is a Vietnam veteran, and he and others like him have sacrificed tremendously for this country. The least we can do is give them back something in return.”