For most of America’s active-duty troops, 25 years seems like a lifetime. For George Villa, its been a rewarding chapter in a life of service.
George Villa, center left, and USO Hawaii Director Leigh Graham, center right, are seen at the Dec. 1 Service Salute in Hawaii. USO photo
Villa was honored at USO Hawaii’s Service Salute on Dec. 1, where he received a USO Lifetime Achievement Award for his 25-plus years of service to the organization along with the USO Hawaii Volunteer of the Year award.
“George is undeniably a key part of our operations in the Honolulu center,” USO Hawaii Director Leigh Graham said in a recent email.
Now 85 years old, Villa still commutes to the Honolulu International Airport via public transportation four days a week to perform his volunteer duties. Villa volunteered for 1,850 hours in the past year and a half, where he “provides directions, tips on places to visit, ideas on things to see, secrets on best places to eat and directions on how and where to catch ‘The Bus!’” according to a citation in the Service Salute program.
—Eric Brandner, Director of Story Development
The Extreme Makeover: Home Edition team presented the Harris family with a new, state-of-the-art house that helps wounded veteran Shilo Harris lead a more comfortable and enjoyable life. Photo courtesy of the Harris family
On February 19, 2007, while on patrol in Iraq, a massive IED struck the truck that SSG Shilo Harris was traveling in. Despite suffering devastating injuries, with burns to over 40% of his body, Shilo’s only concern was for the wellbeing of the men under his command, refusing medical treatment until he’d been assured that his troops were out of harm’s way. During the months of painful surgeries that followed, Shilo and his loyal wife, Kathreyn, found a true calling — to help wounded warriors through the agonizing and traumatic processes of recovery, rehabilitation and learning to face a life that will never be the same. Shilo, once sufficiently healed, began a career as a motivational speaker, giving hope to others similarly wounded, while Kathreyn, taking up the cause as well, began working for the Army Wounded Warrior Project. Shilo and Kathreyn have dedicated their lives to giving back.
With each day that passes the Harris family put more distance between themselves and the event that changed their lives, but their home still stands as a reminder of their struggles, as it cannot protect Shilo from dangerous dust and heat. The family have tried everything to make the home comfortable and safe, but whatever they do, it’s not enough. This hero who was disfigured in service to his country cannot find respite in his own home.
Tonight on ABC at 8:00 PM EST, watch as the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” team changes all of that, with help from the USO.