Habitat for Humanity program aims to help Wisconsin veterans

LA CROSSE — A new initiative from Habitat for Humanity has kicked off in western Wisconsin to encourage volunteerism and ultimately provide housing assistance for veterans.

The new Habitat for Heroes initiative began in La Crosse this week in honor of Veterans Day, The La Crosse Tribune reported .

Veterans filled the program's 40 volunteer slots in less than two weeks, said Kahya Fox, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity La Crosse.

"Our goal is to continue to get vets on the worksite and build that volunteer base," she said.

Fox said the first part of the project will focus on skill development, interacting with veterans of all ages and giving veterans support through volunteerism. Volunteers are working to improve a dilapidated home in La Crosse owned by Sarah Hicks and her children.

"When I heard it was for woman and her five kids I was really interested, knowing in the end it's going to be home for those kids," said Bridget Johnson, 37, who served in the Army Reserve from 2002 to 2014. "I really like the idea of giving back."

Community volunteers will continue working on the home's interior during the winter. The project is expected to be completed next spring.

The second stage of the Habitat for Heroes initiative seeks to begin late next year and would have veterans build a home for a fellow veteran.

"It's nice doing something together and putting in some hard work," Johnson said. "Just knowing vets helped with the project I think makes it even more special. These are our brothers and sisters who served, and we have to take care of each other."

Habitat For Humanity has partnered with a committee of local veterans, veterans groups and businesses.