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A military veteran in recovery is using his home to help struggling veterans find peace and sanctuary

By Rita Giordano, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Health & Fitness

PHILADELPHIA - Anthony Luton has seen a lot of things in life, good and bad.

A Vietnam-era veteran, the West Philly man served his country in the Air Force and struggled with service-connected depression for years before he knew what was wrong with him. He's been through addiction, and come out the other side. Homelessness, too.

By the time he was in his 60s, Luton was well on his way to earning a college degree in behavioral health. But he didn't want to wait to help people. He felt he already had something of value to offer: his home.

"It's a four-bedroom house my mother left me," Luton said. "I felt it should be filled with veterans who are having issues returning to civilian life. I've had my challenges. I'm trying to give back whatever I can with the time I have left."

But his Mill Creek house was in serious need of repair. Luton started Googling and found the help he needed to make it more livable:

Habitat for Humanity.

 

The housing not-for-profit has a global reputation for building new homes for people in need. But in the City of Brotherly Love, with its large volume of aging housing, Habitat's home-repair program is even bigger.

"Most people know us for new construction," said Corinne O'Connell, CEO of Habitat Philadelphia. "About ten years ago, in addition to new home building, we started doing critical home repairs. That has grown tremendously."

To date, Habitat Philadelphia has helped repair about 600 owner-occupied homes, mostly in North Central and West Philadelphia.

That includes 114 homes belonging to military service veterans. Those repairs have been accomplished with the help of $1.1 million from the Home Depot Foundation, which is continuing to fund Habitat to fix up veterans' homes.

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