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Veterans build on tradition of service on the Mall

Sunday - 6/2/2013, 5:14pm  ET

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Volunteers with the National Veterans Build program in front of one of the seven houses they're building on the Mall. (WTOP/Thomas Warren)

WTOP's Thomas Warren reports

Veterans build homes on the Mall

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WASHINGTON - Military veterans took their solid foundation of service to the National Mall on Sunday afternoon, and helped build solid frames for homes to be donated.

The vets helped frame seven homes that will be sent to Habitat for Humanity affiliates in Patuxent and Susquehanna in Maryland, and in D.C. as part of the organization's National Veterans Build program.

"There's going to be one house for each of the branches of military service. There's one that's going to be in honor of the Guard and reserves, and we're going to have one in honor of national service programs," says Christopher Ptomey, director of federal relations for Habitat for Humanity International, and leader of the National Veterans Build program.

AmeriCorps members and civilian volunteers assisted in the home framing, which will continue through June 5 on the Mall.

"We all believe that we need to give back to our veterans, and make sure that they have homes, services, jobs, and a full network of support," says Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Neil Pointer served in Vietnam as a combat photographer for the Army. He now aids veterans and their families qualify for Habitat for Humanity homes. Last year he helped build HHI homes in Vietnam.

He says that this work is merely an extension of what he was taught in the military: to serve others.

"What I'll miss about today is (seeing) the person who gets this house say, 'I can't believe all these volunteers came out and built this house for me,'" Pointer says.

Peter Rumsey, Sr. served in Danang, Vietnam, and says he came to support the cause because it's not just homes, but communities that are being built.

"It's always exciting and energizing to see how people will get together in this process, and there's something special about the community effort," Rumsey says.

The seven homes will be dedicated in a closing ceremony Wednesday night at 5 p.m. on the Mall.

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