Veteran receives free home repairs in Harnett County

HARNETT COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Harnett County resident was treated to free home repairs by the "Build Your America" national service program on Saturday.

Tarah Siekert once serviced Black Hawk helicopters for the U.S. Army. Now she lives near Lillington and provides full-time care to her 2-year-old daughter with special needs. Zach Siekert, Tarah's husband and fellow veteran, entered his wife into a contest to assist with home repairs. He works as a private contract helicopter mechanic in Saudi Arabia.

"My wife Tarah is an Army veteran who served for six and one-half years. She has tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. She is a mother to our daughter and she is beyond amazing," wrote Zach in the contest nomination. "Our daughter Ashlynn is special needs, so my wife is with her all day, 24/7. She is a rock and stronger than me."

Siekert and her husband, whom she met during her tour of duty in Afghanistan, have faced difficult times due to their daughter's medical condition. Before she was born, Ashlynn was diagnosed with a chromosomal disorder known as Turner syndrome. She had open heart surgery at three weeks old, stopped breathing during the operation, and developed cerebral palsy.

Siekert was selected as a winner of the 2015 STANLEY Build Your America contest, and received $10,000 worth of home repairs. The Siekert family's project includes new master bath plumbing, new kitchen countertops, drywall repairs, deck staining, power washing, lawn repair, and yard cleanup. Lowe's of Sanford, N.C. donated materials to the project.

The Build Your America projects are managed by House of Heroes, a Georgia-based non-profit that honors service and sacrifice by providing home repairs to military and public safety veterans and surviving spouses. About a dozen volunteers from the Army Aviation Association of America (AAAA) Iron Mike Chapter of Fort Bragg participated in the project, including local active duty soldiers assigned to the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade and other Aviation units stationed at Fort Bragg.

"AAAA Iron Mike Chapter is honored to assist our fellow Army Aviation Veterans, Tarah and Zachary Siekert, and thank them for their service and sacrifice," said Col. (Ret) Dean Heitkamp, AAAA Iron Mike Chapter President. "AAAA Chapters nationwide are being challenged to complete at least one HOH project over the course of the year through Operation HOH AAAA, and we are proud to engage in such meaningful work on behalf of our local Army Aviation Community."

Siekert is the second of five winners in the contest. The first project took place in June of this year in Carmi, Illinois. Repairs were made to the home of Jim Pfister, a U.S. Army Vietnam combat veteran who spent five years in a Viet Cong POW camp. Three more projects will take place this year in Columbus, Ohio, Bogalusa, Louisiana and El Paso, Texas.

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