Serving Those Who Have Served
Podcast #29 — Aired May 22, 2014

We’re honoring our nation’s veterans this week on BetterWorldians Radio with a special Memorial Day episode. We’ll talk with Dale Beatty, the founder of Purple Heart Homes, a non-profit that builds and modifies houses for disabled veterans. Beatty will discuss his journey from a life-altering injury while serving in Iraq, to founding the organization that is helping veterans live happier lives in homes customized to their needs. Beatty will discuss how everyone can honor our nation’s heroes this Memorial Day and everyday. Tune in every week to hear new guests share how they are making the world a better place and to learn how you can become a BetterWorldian!

 

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Dale Beatty
Co-Founder, Purple Heart Homes

In 2004, Staff Sergeant Dale Beatty deployed with the North Carolina National Guard to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2004 while on a patrol route that was littered with highly active insurgent operations, the vehicle Beatty was riding in was ripped apart by anti tank mines. The explosion was so severe that it left Beatty a double amputee below the knees. Thanks to support from the Iredell Homes Builders Association and many members from the local community in and around Statesville, NC, a specially adapted barrier free home was built for Beatty and his family, with Beatty serving as general contractor. As a result of all the support from his community – Dale Beatty and his battle buddy John Gallina wanted to help other Service Connected Disabled Veterans with their housing solutions. Together they co-founded Purple Heart Homes with money from their disability checks to help Veterans and their caregivers from all eras.

Episode Transcript

Raymond Hansell
Joining us today is Dale Beatty, Cofounder of Purple Heart Homes. In 2004 Staff Sergeant Dale Beatty deployed with the North Carolina National Guard to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While on a patrol route the vehicle Beatty was riding in was ripped apart by anti tank mines. The explosion was so severe that it left him a double amputee below the knees. Thanks to support from the Iredell Homes Builders Association and many members from the local community, I might add, around Statesville, North Carolina, a specially adapted barrier free home was built for Beatty and his family, with Beatty serving as general contractor. As a result of all the support from his community Dale Beatty and his battle buddy, John Gallina, wanted to help other Service Connected Disabled Veterans with their housing solutions, so together they cofounded Purple Heart Homes with money from their disability checks to help Veterans and their caregivers that served in all eras of war. Dale, it is really a privilege and an honor to have you join us today on BetterWorldians Radio. Thank you for joining us.

Dale Beatty
Ray, it's great to be here. Certainly humbling to be considered a BetterWorldian, and I just love the approach you guys take to this type of stuff. And, again, I'm honored to be here and just to share a little bit of our story and what we do now.

Raymond Hansell
And we're very anxious to have you do just that, but before we begin I'd just like to say on behalf of all of us here at BetterWorldians Radio, thank you, thank you both for your service, thank you all for your service. I'd like to begin, if I could, just tell us a little bit about the injuries that you suffered in Iraq and what life was like when you got back home?

Dale Beatty
Well, Ray, we were there for 10 months before we actually go hurt. John and myself were in a Humvee on a patrol. We were on a pretty active area, a road that was used a lot by friendly Military and then also by the insurgents. And I guess just got a little bit unlucky that day, the vehicle we were in hit two anti-tank landmines, and I eventually lost both legs, that resulted in having to amputate both of my legs below the knee, and a little bit of shrapnel here and there and a couple of other banged up injuries. And John, really I took the brunt of the blast, but he has suffered from pretty serious back injuries from the same incident. So certainly it reminds you that life can change in just an instant, and in a matter of a week after I was -- after we got hurt, here I was a double amputee, having made the decision to have my left leg amputated, and they had taken my right leg the same day as the accident. And for a long time I was at a hospital. I was at Walter Reed Hospital for a year and kind of in that protective bubble where everything is accessible and everything is collocated for you to be a patient and function. But then I returned back to normal society, retired from the Military as a civilian and, yes, I know I'm not just another guy with metal legs, but in all intents and purposes I am, you know, there's nothing that really makes me special over more than any other veteran in my community, but, too, there's nothing that makes me not have to be a productive member of my community and society. So it was really interesting to see a lot of the challenges that I faced and have been able to overcome and see other people go through the same things, and it really opened my eyes to a whole different world of living with a disability. So it was a tremendous experience, and I couldn't have gotten through it without my battle buddy, John, and we wouldn't be anywhere near where we're at with Purple Heart Homes without him, as well as our CEO. So we stuck together, and I think that's one of the main things that I see, as long as you stick together in your group you're going to be successful.

Raymond Hansell
You say that in reading about the story that you actually in spite of these difficulties you actually feel lucky, can you explain that to us?

Dale Beatty
Well, it may be a little bit cliche at times, but I know people have heard the saying there's always somebody that has it worse off. No matter how smart you are there's always somebody smarter. So I mean you can't place yourself at any end of extreme and restrict yourself to not being able to accomplish something again. And I looked and I saw other, my peers at the hospital with me, who some were missing three limbs, subsequently, since I got hurt, guys have been missing four limbs, and that's a challenge I never have to face. I've learned to use my prostheses and just did the best I could and went on about my life and lived my life, and tried not to let this injury or these injuries keep me from being happy, keep me from being a father, and keep me from just continuing to live my life. And I am lucky because I think, one, I had a great family, a great community that supported me before my injury and after and they continue to do so. So it has a lot to do with who I am and where I am from and just my support systems, they've been so invaluable and really I think that's why I've been able to be so successful in the recovery part is just from great people helping me out.

Raymond Hansell
You actually say that your family and your community members rallied around you to get that house built for you and for your family, so tell us what that meant to you?

Dale Beatty
Well, I was in the hospital, did not have a home, we had been renting. When we got the alert to go to Iraq we had a two-year-old son. My wife was -- she was pregnant again, and so she moved in with her father. So after the injury we spent a year at the hospital. I basically had no home to come home to. And, you know, looked at a couple things to rent, and then my dad said, well, I'll give you some land if you want to build on family land. So and that land has been in our family for 100 years, so, one, that means a lot to me, just to be home, quote-unquote, home. And, two, the level of excitement that it generated among other people when my dad told them that I was going to be building a house. We didn't have to go ask for help, people poured it out. We had to turn people away or there wasn't enough work for everybody to do that wanted to be involved. And that was hugely impactful to me, to know that I am from a community that appreciates the Military service, like that. However, through my experience, being hurt in 2004, which is 10 years this year, of course, but I've seen the development of nonprofit groups, like Purple Heart Homes and any other one. And they seem to have gravitated towards Iraq and Afghanistan veterans only, for the majority a lot of them just want to focus on helping veterans my age and that really excludes about 80% of the veteran population in the country. So while it was a wonderful homecoming for me, what it really meant was that I was retired, I had some more work to do because I saw that there was an inequality in the treatment of veterans as one group in this country and that's what led to us forming Purple Heart Homes.

Raymond Hansell
And you did that early on. How did it feel to be able to actually, not only to receive the benefit of this community outreach, which came pouring over for you, but also now to have the opportunity to give back to fellow veterans in the process?

Dale Beatty
Well, I think it's -- it feels wonderful, honestly, it feels wonderful to be able to take a story, like I had with my community and my family and being able to build my own house, and being able to take that story to another community a thousand miles away from North Carolina and say, hey, here's what happened for Dale, are you willing to do this for another veteran in your midst? And when I tell the story about how -- it just seems to inspire people to that action, again. And so I mean it's totally, totally fulfilling when I can say, hey, we have a Vietnam veteran here that's the same as Dale Beatty, are you, community, as willing to help this Vietnam veteran as you are Dale Beatty? And 95%, 99% of the time they're all in, but we don't -- we just lost that focus and being able to bring that focus back and provide a great healing and a meeting of a physical need for a Vietnam era veteran, just like that was done for me, is truly my greatest fulfillment. It means that we are leveling the playing field, so to speak.

Raymond Hansell
Yes, that's a fantastic element of this entire journey is that is that you've seen the disparity of treatment between one era and another and now you're in the process of trying to deal with that disparity. And I should mention to our listeners, by the way you actually funded this, at least initially, with your disability income, that's really amazing.

Dale Beatty
Well, it's really not expensive to start an organization, a couple thousand bucks to do the research and do the filing, but John and I both, after I built my house and he was still working as a builder, as an actual homebuilder, we just said, hey, we have to do something different that means more to us and it may be a job, it may not, we know it's going to be nothing but volunteerism for awhile, but we just really had faith in our idea. And really, to go back to your previous question, knowing that we took a simple idea and we've been able to take it so far and inspire other communities, other veterans and re-instill some of this responsibility, preparing for our veterans in the communities, you know, it's led to all of that. So that investment was chump change in the grand scheme of things, but that's what we had to do. We wanted to -- we set out to establish an organization that had veterans at the helm. Even though we really didn't know what we were doing, we knew exactly what we wanted to do, and we haven't strayed from that purpose, and I'm proud of that, as well, that we're still fulfilling our initial intent.

Raymond Hansell
That's exactly what we've seen so many guests on our show, even that probably one of the prime examples I can recall is the Mother Theresa show where we were recounting how these simple steps, taking the first step and then the next step and then the next step, and before you know it you've got a movement, you've got a company, you've got an organization. We're going to take a break right now, but we'll be back shortly to talk with Dale Beatty, the Cofounder of Purple Heart Homes, and my Cohost MarySue. In the meantime, I'd like to offer this challenge to our listeners, if you know someone whose acts, no matter how small, are making a difference in the lives of other people, please, we'd love to hear about them. Send us an e-mail at Radio@BetterWorldians.com. We'll be right back.

Raymond Hansell
Hi, you're listening to BetterWorldian Radio. We're speaking with Dale Beatty, the Founder of Purple Heart Homes. And now let's welcome back Dale and MarySue.

MarySue Hansell
Hi, Dale.

Dale Beatty
Hey, MarySue, how are you today?

MarySue Hansell
Good, good. You know, you received the Purple Heart, can you tell our listeners who might not know what that is?

Dale Beatty
Well, of course, you would ask me a long-answered question, but in essence the Purple Heart is a Military medal that's awarded for wounds received during combat and defense of our country, usually given to the Military, although civilians who are in a war zone can receive the Purple Heart, basically, for bleeding for defense of your homeland. The original, and I encourage people to educate themselves -- the original Purple Heart was awarded by General George Washington on August 7th, 1782, and it was a small Purple Heart shaped piece of cloth and it had the word merit. And it was only awarded to -- it was actually the first award to be given to the individual soldier of any army. Before that it was just officers that got awards. So it's really significant for the, I guess, the blue collars of who our Military men and women are.

MarySue Hansell
I'm really glad I asked you that, I didn't know that. Can you tell us about the type of work that your Purple Heart Homes does in remodeling the homes to accommodate all the different disabilities?

Dale Beatty
Sure, sure. Basically, Purple Heart Homes is set-up with two programs. One is an aging in place program, where we go in and provide remodeling services to meet the specific needs of the veteran, and that could be as simple as a ramp to help them get into their house or a ramp and a widened doorway and then a bathroom to provide for ease of access for someone with a physical disability. It's not restricted to people with physical disabilities because we do realize that the hidden wounds are also prevalent, and we do also consider those folks service connected disabled veterans, so they also would be eligible. Generally, the remodel program is for older veterans, but we have provided this service for Iraq, Afghanistan, Gulf War veterans because so we are all inclusive. Our second program is a homeownership program and, basically, we accept foreclosed properties or real estate owned properties that people are willing to donate to our charity for the purpose of housing a disabled veteran. We remodel the home for the specific needs of that individual veteran that wants to assume ownership and we ensure that they can qualify for a minimum of and, oh, actually a maximum of 50% of the appraised value of the home. So we want to help them become homeowners, and we do take a lot of the financial consideration, the education piece into that. To ensure they're getting a great deal on a home, they do have a stake in the game and ownership, and are required to originate a mortgage. And that program really when Purple Heart Homes is able to create a mortgage, we put that money back into our remodel program. So really the younger veterans who are becoming homeowners for the first time are supporting the remodel services of the aging in place program. And, again, the home ownership program not restricted to just younger veterans, we have a few Vietnam veterans in that program now. So two programs that specifically meet the housing needs of veterans in this country, that's what they're designed for.

MarySue Hansell
Well, they sign like wonderful programs. How many programs, Dale, would you say have helped veterans? How many veterans have been helped, in other words?

Dale Beatty
We've completed close to 40 projects, if it's not over 40, it's very close to 40. And we have another, I believe, 13 that are ready to start, and then subsequently after that there's probably another waiting list of 80 to 100 veterans that, I mean they're all in need, but those are the numbers we're looking at currently. We've completed 40 in five years, and continuing to increase our capacity and the number of projects we do each year, so the need always far outweighs our ability to serve.

MarySue Hansell
Now you talked a little bit about the homeownership program, but I've heard you mention that it's not -- it's a hand up and not a hand down, can you tell a little bit what you mean by that?

Dale Beatty
Yes, ma'am. In our market space, with charitable housing nonprofit organizations, some of -- ones that provide those types of services or that type of low income homeownership program opportunity for people they do usually require the person have a stake in the game. They have a mortgage, they have to pay or have work equity into the property to have that. We feel veterans already have extended a lot to this country, you know, and not to say that we owe every veteran on the street. But for signing up, you know, Purple Heart Homes, we feel that it entitles them at least the opportunity to own a home at a really reduced rate, and not free. And we just believe free is not the answer. It's a hand up to help them get a mortgage and not a handout of a free home that may be lost in two years because somebody is not financially educated or financially responsible enough. So that's really the goal behind it.

MarySue Hansell
Now many veterans who have received help from your organization, the Purple Heart Homes, become actual volunteers, tell us about that?

Dale Beatty
Well, I think it's this idea and the culture that we've created around our brand has a lot to do with it, that people that become involved with us know that we're not restricted to just serving one generation of veterans. Veterans do not self-identify and ask for help. However, they do talk to each other a lot, and I think it's just the younger veterans sometimes wanting to be involved with the older guys to either hear their stories or because they have so much respect and they've been given a gift by Purple Heart Homes, they want to repay it. And repaying it by helping one of their peers, no matter what their age is, really I have seen the most healing impact among these projects where an older veteran is working on a younger veteran's home or younger veterans are out volunteering on an older veteran's home, and it's always the same result, no matter what the age combination is. It's tremendous.

MarySue Hansell
Now what kind of actual volunteer work is involved?

Dale Beatty
Well, of course, on a remodel project you can imagine the type of things that folks would do -- some yard work, painting, some general carpentry, any types of things that people can be involved in and come out and put some sweat equity into, but not something that's going to be dangerous or very skilled labor that we require an insurance policy for. So we do, you know, we do have to be careful what we're working on. I'm not going to have volunteers out there installing a gas line by chance, but just that general work where they can interact with in our remodel projects with the veteran who lives there. A lot of just general labor and then sometimes even our volunteers we ask to come and support us at fundraising events or whatever their particular skill set will be. I've seen the value in that volunteerism, too, professional services and trade labor. So just as much as we can get from general people that want to put sweat equity, to professionals that want to lend their services as a contribution. We try to take advantage of it all.

MarySue Hansell
You mentioned healing, I think that's wonderful. How do you think the veterans benefit from this volunteering?

Dale Beatty
Well, you know, I guess the best way, I don't know it has a name where we can ascribe it or put our finger on it, but I guess maybe I should just explain it with a brief story. We had a veteran, a young Iraq veteran, a Marine, who was pretty severely wounded. A town had a property that we were able to purchase a property that had burned down for a dollar. This place was an old VFW post that had burned down. So we bought this property for a dollar, we built an entire house. The community was just over the top supporting it, and at the very end there was this older Vietnam vet that had volunteered, worked tirelessly for several days, several weeks on this project. At the end we asked for any comments from the group of our volunteers? And he said, yes, I have one. And people kind of got scared because this was the old mean crotchety guy in town. He got up on the stage and he said after 40 years just me being here working on this project I've finally let go of my burden that I've carried from Vietnam. He was a Vietnam veteran who had never received any of the respect that I was given and the respect that veteran he helped was given. And to be able to see him go in front of a group of his neighbors and say after 40 years I've been able to lay down this burden that I've carried about the way I was treated because I was able to help another person in my same situation. I don't know what it is, if it's just people wanting to be a BetterWorldian maybe.

MarySue Hansell
That's what it is. Now let's talk a bit about Scott Emory, who will be joining us in just a minute, can you tell us a bit about Scott and his story?

Dale Beatty
Yes, of course. Scott actually lives pretty close to where we're from in North Carolina. We met him just through random association of other veterans groups. I believe he saw us and reached out to us, started hanging around our offices, and before I believe he even realized he might be eligible for our services. He served in the Marine Corps during Desert Storm, and since I've known him I've learned that Desert Storm has its own set of issues with and as far as the medical realm problems, just like Vietnam does. And we think about Desert Storm was the 100-hour war, but these Marines were out in the desert for months, and they were exposed to a lot of nasty stuff. And Scott is a good example of one of those folks who was able to -- he served in that war, he's had some experiences that will affect him for the rest of his life, but once he was able to I think see the impact and the culture of Purple Heart Homes and how we maybe treat our problems by trying to help other people find solutions, he really just got onboard and now he's one of those volunteers you were talking about.

MarySue Hansell
What kind of improvements did you make to Scott's home?

Dale Beatty
Well, part of Scott's problem, he does have physical injuries, but he has insomnia. We did a -- and he has two small kids and a wife, who obviously like to sleep at night. Scott is a big Marine, so he's moving around at three a.m., I'm sure it's waking other people up. So we did a small addition on the back of his house, and it just simply provided him a room and a little bit larger bathroom for him to be able to go and exercise, for him to be able to go and rest in that room. When he's not sleeping he can go in there and not bother the rest of his family. And we helped him out by lengthening I think his laundry room and stuff a little bit, too. We were thinking about his boss lady some, too, but mainly it was providing that solution that most people wouldn't think would make any difference to a guy that looks able bodied, but I know Scott was hurt pretty bad physically. And if he needs to go into that room at night and write his poetry -- sorry, Scott -- but he's a good poet, too.

MarySue Hansell
Well, you know what, let's have Scott Emory join us now. Hi, Scott, are you there?

Emory Scott
Hi, MarySue.

MarySue Hansell
Nice to meet you. What did it mean to you to have Purple Heart Homes work on your home?

Emory Scott
Well, I'm one of those guys that likes to do for myself. John and Dale, when I originally came in I was trying to volunteer to get myself up and moving around and that kind of thing, and it probably took about a month and between John and Dale and some of the other PHH crew, they got together and sort of figured out that I had a little bit of a need. And, regardless of what I was telling them, they got it out of me. So they stepped up and all but did the application for me, and then they ended up, when I got approved it was -- I wasn't expecting to be approved, but it was just like a release, you know, a load of bricks being dropped off of you because I had tried to do it all myself for so long, doing little bits and pieces at a time that I guess when they came in and approved me and gave me that call it was just -- I mean it was just a huge release.

MarySue Hansell
You mean you were trying to do the remodeling yourself before?

Emory Scott
Well, I couldn't do the remodeling per se, but the little things that needed to be done at my house I tried to do them myself. And because of all of my injuries there was times that I mean the pain would take it out of you to where you really just completely were exhausted.

MarySue Hansell
Now Dale mentioned you're a volunteer now, what types of volunteering do you do with the whole group?

Emory Scott
Well, I've actually been out on a couple of the job sites, and I do what I can. I can't, I mean construction-wise I can't do a lot, but I'm a voice for them when they need me to be there for them. And I've actually went to a golf tournament here and there and helped them out some. I do what I can for them because I mean it's the least I can do for what they did for me and my family.

MarySue Hansell
That's great. What has that renovation project meant to your family, your wife and your children and yourself?

Emory Scott
Well, to the boss lady, as Dale calls it, that's -- it's really given her some relief as far as myself, and I mean she's got a lot of testosterone in the family because I've got two young sons and it's really hard for me to get up and do things when I'm in such pain a lot of times from my veteran's appointments or my doctors, my therapies and that kind of thing. And then trying to get two young sons to where they need to go and do what they need to do, and it's been a blessing in so many different ways it's just uncountable.

MarySue Hansell
That's just wonderful. You know, Scott, I read an interview recently where you said teaming up with Purple Heart Homes renewed my faith in people. I thought that was so beautiful. What did you mean by that?

Emory Scott
Well, like I said, whenever you're in the Military, and I've started saying the Military because I'm a Marine and don't want to hurt Dale's feelings, but whenever you're in the Military you watch your buddy's back. And I know that's a little cliche, but it's the truth. And when you come out here you're -- you don't expect it, but then again you do, and being in the Military I mean it's a times 20 team environment. So whenever I got out here, and I was injured and discharged in 1999, I saw right the opposite. I mean I had people helping me as much as they could, but it wasn't like in the Military, we were right there, if one of us got hurt, you picked the guy up off the battlefield, throwed him over your shoulder and went down, you know, went down the road to the battalion aid station or something to help them out. It's not like that out here, but people helped me where they could, and but like I said I'm one to do for myself as much as I can, that's just the way I was raised. And I actually met Dale's cohort, John Gallina, in 2010 at a Hero's Day, and that's really where I saw the biggest outpouring of support for the heroes, or what they called the heroes, at a local church. I didn't feel like going that day because I was in a lot of pain. My wife actually had to get me up out of the bed and basically drag me and my kids and stuff. But when I went John happened to see me, and he walked up and just he dropped a Purple Heart on his challenge coin in my hand and shook my hand, and told me thanks. And that was about it, that's where I learned about Purple Heart Homes. And a couple of years later I literally was leaving a VA appointment after some pretty painful therapy, and it just so happens that the Purple Heart Homes Shop is right there on my way home, and I swung in to see if I could volunteer. Well, that, long story short, it happened. And while I was waiting to volunteer John and Dale both got to know me and some of the Purple Heart Homes crew got to know me, also. And all together it's just one of those things where I feel like I can give back now; I can use my experience to give back to the veterans.

MarySue Hansell
It's just a great, great story. Thanks for sharing.

Raymond Hansell
Yes, Scott, that was -- we'd like to thank you for joining us on BetterWorldians Radio today, Scott, and helping to share your story and the great mission of the Purple Heart Homes. And, also, we'd like to thank you for your service to your country.

Emory Scott
Sure.

Raymond Hansell
We need to take another break at this point. When we come back we'll talk more with Dale Beatty, the Founder of Purple Heart Homes, and also to my Cohost, Greg. We'll be right back.

Raymond Hansell
Hi, we're back now with Dale Beatty, the Founder of Purple Heart Homes. We'll have more with Dale in a moment, but before we do we wanted to update you on last month's charity partner on our game on Facebook, called A Better World. In the month of April we teamed up with CURE International, a nonprofit that has provided over 150,000 life changing surgeries for children in need in the developing world. We were very happy to report that our players reached our goal of 500,000 good deeds in the month of April, and so A Better World has funded surgeries to enable five kids to walk for the first time in the developing world. Great job BetterWorldians, please keep up the good work. We're looking forward to doing more good things in May with Cradles to Crayons.

Gregory Hansell
Hi, Dale, this is Greg. How are you doing?

Dale Beatty
Hey, Greg, how is it going?

Gregory Hansell
It's going well, thank you. You know, I read a quote on your website that read whether or not you were getting off the plane or 40 years later a proper reintegration and social acceptance affects veterans' lives. First of all, I just wanted to highlight the importance of that. I think a lot of people have gratitude for their veterans, but they don't understand how important expressing that gratitude and sharing empathy and helping with acceptance is for veterans' lives. Could you talk about that?

Dale Beatty
Yes, that's a great question. I think we strive to see a certain validation in what we do, and I think for my grandfather's generation it was, his tour was much harder than mine, much longer than mines. When he was received back home they were treated with a certain level of respect because these were -- they were the greatest generation, they defeated the evils in World War II. And then you look at the paradigm shift between that and then just about 20 years later, 25 years later Vietnam, and the impact that that negative social stigma that was attached to Vietnam veterans has followed them their entire lives.

Gregory Hansell
Yes.

Dale Beatty
And it has negatively impacted them as productive members of our society. And I mean to me it's glaringly obvious that if we knee jerked and then say take the latest generation of veterans and raise them so high on a pedestal that we create or train them to expect these things from people, you know, that's not respect, that's entitlement. So there's a lot of different issues that we face, but I think just people being involved, veterans knowing that people care, and people assuming that the VA or the Government has a program or has a purse string attached to providing a house for a veteran is not the case. They do have a few programs, but the point is veterans are told to go reintegrate to their community.

Gregory Hansell
Right.

Dale Beatty
No community is told by anyone that they have a part in that reintegration, and that's what we're trying to bridge that gap.

Gregory Hansell
That's a huge point; I think people don't even know what they should do and what they can do to really help. No community is told what they can do, that's huge. I wanted to ask you what it's meant to you to reach out to these veterans from generations through Purple Heart that may not have gotten the proper recognition for their service?

Dale Beatty
I mean, to me, it's -- you know, I go back to that I'm lucky comment -- a lot of people have asked me about that comment, how could you consider yourself lucky after losing both your legs and a little bit of eyesight and a bunch of shrapnel in your body? And it's because of that, I mean it's because now I'm still here to have this opportunity to let other veterans know that you know what, hey, you're only missing one leg, buddy, it's not going to be so bad. You can live your life. And mostly nonveterans tell me what an inspiration I am, most other veterans tell me welcome home.

Gregory Hansell
Yes.

Dale Beatty
No matter what their injury is, so it's an interesting paradigm, but certainly to me it has been a form of therapy, it has been I guess a purpose that I've just fallen -- me and John and now Scott have fallen into.

Gregory Hansell
What have you learned from working with veterans from all these different eras?

Dale Beatty
Well, for one, I have learned that as veterans we pretty much all view all the other veterans the same, as one group. But, you know, another thing is I've learned that veterans as a whole they are a good representation of a cross-section of America, period. They have problems, just like everybody else. Post-traumatic stress is not endemic to people that go to combat, you can get that from a car accident. But I just think that for these guys it does matter, the flag, and what they felt for in each other, it does matter to them. And having that validation is important for our long-term success in the community.

Gregory Hansell
Well, what you do is so important for our nation's veterans, and as you highlighted a few minutes ago people don't even realize, they think that something is already there to help, when oftentimes it isn't. What can they do to help support Purple Heart Homes' mission? How can they get involved and how can they get their communities involved?

Dale Beatty
Well, I think the biggest thing is they can always visit us through any of our portals, be it our website to donate or volunteer or sharing a story on Facebook just to provide another point of awareness for people. But really it's more of realizing the need in their community and helping Purple Heart Homes identify that need. And then being a partner with Purple Heart Homes to address and execute a solution for that problem. We want to be partners with communities, and people can support in numerous ways, but if they want to support our mission they need to look to what's right next door in their own community and see if they're willing to take ownership and responsibility like we have for our brothers and sisters in arms.

Gregory Hansell
Well, going beyond then just support of your organization, what do you personally think is the best way that people show their gratitude, their respect, their empathy for our veterans?

Dale Beatty
Wow, Greg, you've got the hardest questions. Is that why they make you go last?

Gregory Hansell
That's right.

Dale Beatty
You know, I really think that any organization where people can fund and see their contribution returned to them on an immediate level, such as work, sweat equity or volunteering their time just to be there and work, there's plenty of organizations that are pro-Military that are great to work with and provide that opportunity to volunteer. And, you know, for me I think it's finding that organization that fits you and fits what you want to support, be it housing, be it getting a veteran a car or whatever it is, there's plenty of opportunity out there. But I challenge people, also, to do their research and look at the bottom line and don't just write a check, know how it's going to be used.

Gregory Hansell
Many of our listeners may have seen you on the cover of the Time Magazine with other Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, where you were called the New Greatest Generation. What does that mean to you, that they appreciate your service?

Dale Beatty
Yes, while we were called the Greatest Generation, I think that as far as Purple Heart Homes and Dale Beatty personally goes, we still have a ways to go, we still have a lot more people to help and a lot to accomplish before we're even close to my grandfather's generation.

Gregory Hansell
You also do work talking with the children in schools about service, can you tell us about that work?

Dale Beatty
Yes, sir. When we are invited, usually around a project, sometimes schools want to become involved either as the students, themselves, want to be involved in fundraising in some way, shape or form, or coming over to volunteer, to pass out water and food to the other -- to the workers. But, you know, other than that we are invited to speak a lot. And my main message I try to get to these kids is, one, that Dale and John had a good idea, and we've not given up. And because we haven't given up we've been able to collect a lot of other people that feel the same way we do, and that's what's given us momentum to just have an idea that we started and now it become, you know, I wouldn't call it a movement just yet, but at least develop a culture that has some sort of critical mass. And then, two, I always remind any school group that I speak to that they have the freedom to act on those ideas and to make their world a better place only because somebody somewhere is guarding our rights and our liberties as Americans, and we've been doing that since the Revolutionary War. It's continually been bought for us by people like my grandfather, who weren't afraid to go leave home for four years. And those kids need to know that there are been a lot of sacrifices given for them before they were even a thought in the world, there have been sacrifices made for their way of life that they get to benefit from. And so I remind them of that, and hopefully somebody will continue to do that.

Gregory Hansell
Yes, I think that's a great point. I mean people say no one man, no one person is an island. There's so many things that we, you know, they talk about standing on the shoulders of geniuses and on people that have made such sacrifices. It's interesting that what you're underlining to me is it's not just about the Military service and sacrifice, but with the Greatest Generation it was what they came home and do, and you really service and both meanings of the term.

Dale Beatty
Yes, sir. No question, I mean really now if we look at what's prominent in the media and the discussion is how veterans are after combat. We're not in any question of how they were going to perform while they're at war, but now we're borderline being scared of hiring them just because they have been and done that job. So I think there's some, there are dual meanings for that Greatest Generation, and will we be known as the Next Greatest Generation 20 years from now when we've had the time to enter back into the workforce, raise our families, help become leaders in this country? But if things aren't looked at in a logical manner we can easily be, veterans as a group can easily be shut out to the conversation because we have problems.

Gregory Hansell
Now it also sounds like you're saying, you know, to the listeners at home that as much as we're emphasizing today service from our veterans you're also talking to people, I hear you saying to people at home it's not just about military service, you know, serve the future, serve your country, do what you can do to try to make all of us this Next Greatest Generation.

Dale Beatty
Oh, yes, and most definitely this is not -- Purple Heart Homes is not about veterans, it's about social responsibility, and through my and John's personal experience we just happen to have gone through an experience that allowed us to see things in a perspective that I think few others had. So, yes, I mean I don't care what people do, what their cause is, as long as they know that with a simple idea and without giving up they can make an impact. And going back to the school group, that's what I always tell the kids. Hey, look, you don't have to help Purple Heart Homes, you don't have to help veterans, but do something you know is going to make a difference in the world.

Gregory Hansell
Well, let me ask you one last question, and I do this every week, I ask every guest and, unfortunately, because it's the last question I always have about 30 seconds to give people before I have to give back to my dad -- but how do you hope the world would be improved with the work you're doing with Purple Heart Homes? I mean, obviously, a big part of that is helping these veterans, but is it just, which is a great mission, or is it more than that? What's your vision of how the world is improved by what you're doing?

Dale Beatty
I definitely think it's more than that, and I hope through helping veterans and through our mission people come back to knowing their neighbors, communities come back to being responsible and caring for each other as small groups, and we don't rely on a Government or an agency to have all the answers for us, and to know that we can take care of ourselves.

Raymond Hansell
That's an amazing wrap-up for the show today. Dale, I really appreciate your participation. I just want to encourage our listeners, you know, we all take so much for granted every day, the sun is going to come up, we're going to have good weather, we're going to have reasonable weather, we're going to be able to get to work, but our safety and our security of our families every day we have to remember are clearly and regularly being protected by people like Dale, people like Scott, and so many thousands upon thousands of veterans that we owe so much gratitude for. One of the most popular activities in our social game is expressing gratitude, which is considered the greatest of all virtues. And so I encourage you to take the time to express appreciation in your thoughts, your prayers and your actions for what we all have to be grateful for. You can find out more about Purple Heart Homes by going to PurpleHeartHomesUSA.org. Dale, Scott, we'd like to thank both of you for joining us on BetterWorldians Radio today and for all the great work you're doing to serve our veterans.

Dale Beatty
Thank you, Ray. Thank you, MarySue. Thanks, Greg.

Gregory Hansell
Thank you.

MarySue Hansell
Thank you for joining.

Raymond Hansell
Please join us next week on BetterWorldians Radio when well be talking with Danielle Gleetoe, the Founder of One Simple Wish, an organization thats brightening the lives of children in foster care and at-risk youth, one simple wish at a time. We have an excellent lineup of guests in the coming weeks, and if you know an unsung BetterWorldian who would make a great guest on our show, please send us an email at Radio@BetterWorldians.com. Wed like to say a special thank you to all of our nations veterans today for your service on this upcoming Memorial Day weekend. Wed like to thank everyone today for listening. You can join the millions of people who have played our game so far on Facebook, A Better World at facebook.com/abetterworld. And right now, dont forget to check out the Legends of Oz Collection now available in the game. Legends of Oz has hit the movie theaters throughout the country throughout the month of May. And until next time, everybody, please be a BetterWorldian.