BrightView’s Chicago team helped to create a new place to call home for U.S. Army veteran Anthony Chobanov as part of “A Soldier’s Journey Home” (ASJH).
Spc. Chobanov volunteered to deploy in 2006 in Operation Enduring Freedom VII and was a Forward Observer while in Afghanistan. His duties consisted of bringing to arms all indirect fire assets – such as naval gunfire, mortars, and artillery – and communicating battlefield intelligence. Chobanov was also deployed from December 2007 to March 2008 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Now at home, Chobanov suffers from Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, causing him to struggle to maintain a job outside of his home, which is when ASJH stepped in to provide the Chobanov family with a house.
Mike Morey, Account Manager at the Chicago Northwest branch, first heard of the project from a friend, a high school teacher a school partnering with ASJH for this project. As someone familiar with our company, he asked Morey if BrightView would be interested in getting involved.
“I had conversations with my boss and our team and they were all in,” Morey said.
ASJH’s mission is to find a worthy recipient who made the choice to serve their country and paid a huge price for their service. Their goal is to pull the community together to build a home for the service member and their family to flourish in.
Chobanov was chosen as the third veteran ASJH built a home for.
“We held conference calls over the winter to discuss what Tony was looking for and learned very quickly that he didn’t want a lot of tall shrubs and evergreens because, with the PTSD, he didn’t want to be scanning for threats when he comes home,” Morey said.
Those parameters, Morey knew, would be no problem for the BrightView Design Group. The design was presented to the Chobanov family, who heartily approved, and then Morey reached out to the local nurseries and landscape suppliers to get all the needed material donated.
“Along every step of the way between last fall and now, BrightView has been supportive of taking care of Tony’s new home,” Morey said. “Over two days in May, Account Managers and Production Managers from Branch 322 finally got to execute part of the install prior to the key ceremony at the end of the month.”
BrightView’s enhancement crew wrapped up the project in early June and a service partner with BrightView provided hydro-seeding shortly after.
When things started to become challenging or expensive, Morey heard nothing but positive comments from his BrightView team members, including “It doesn’t matter because we’ll make it happen and we’ll figure it out” and “This is the right thing to do.”
The big thing Morey took away from his fellow team members was the feeling that they all needed to do something like this again with BrightView. Rumor has it that ASJH’s next project will take place in San Antonio.
“It was honor to work on the home,” Morey said. “I was really struck with how, during the entire process, people from different organizations came in from all over the country to take part in this. What stuck out to me was how hard it is for veterans to acclimate back into a society they fought so hard to protect. They gave their lives, even if they didn’t die, and anything we can do to help stateside to make their lives easier is an honor. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”