Memorial Day 2011, and Giving Back to a Veteran in Need

Real Estate Broker/Owner with J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY License # 49FA1074963

Mom and Dad, around 1950. He would be in Korea for 2 years, earn a Bronze Star, and return home to my oldest brother for the first timeIt seems that the older I get, the more meaningful each Memorial Day becomes.

When I was 23, it was a day off, and the marker for wearing summer clothes.
When I was 33, it made me a little nostalgic for my father, who passed away when I was 25. 
Now that I'm 43, Memorial Day is a day of reflection and gratitude.

This might have to do with my own growing awareness of my mortality, but it is deeper than that. Life experience teaches you things, and among the lessons I have learned is that even veterans who make it home uninjured physically still have things to deal with. It could be lost time, trauma, or the death of a close friend. They can't pretend what they went through never happened. 

My own father, who served in two wars, couldn't wake up the way you and I do. He woke up violently, as if he were having a nightmare or expecting a bayonet in his face. I hated waking him up from a nap or on early mornings. I never understood as a youth what it meant. After he passed, we found out, quite by accident, that he won a Bronze Star at Inchon. He never spoke of it to us, and explained the events once to his brother. That was it. 

I've thought quite a bit about the 60 Minutes story Sunday of Sal Giunta, a 26 year old Medal of Honor recipient, who is still adjusting to life after combat. He is is the first live MOH recipient since Vietnam, is uncomfortable with his fame, doesn't consider himself a hero, and would trade it all to have his two friends back who perished the night he won the medal. 

Honestly, I wish I could give the guy a hug. I wish I could give my dad a hug. I wish I could express my gratitude to the men and women in uniform who sacrificed so much so that I could live in this free society. We read so many stories of our returning vets who have lost houses, had issues with the VA or not been treated as they should. It is heartbreaking. We should be thanking them, not subjecting them to more hardship. 

There is one thing I am going to do in my little corner of the world to make a difference to a veteran in the next 12 months. I will list and sell one veteran's house in the next year pro bono. They have to have a special need of some sort (it can be financial) because it is a waste to do it for a vet who is flush with cash or in a short sale, but so long as there is a DD-214 and the possibility of an equity advantage I'll get it done for this veteran gratis as my way of giving back. I can do this for one veteran (or their survivors), and it can be in any of the following counties: Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess, Fairfield (CT), Bronx, Queens, or Orange. There is minimal small print to the offer, because I can't guarantee that a buyer brokerage will be cool with forgoing their end, but there will be no listing commission. 

If you know of a veteran who needs to sell and a pro bono arrangement would make a difference between hardship or not, please let me know via phone or email. 

If you are a fellow broker-owner, you feel like following suit and such an arrangement would not be an undue burden to the sustainability to your business, I encourage you to join me. 


Comments (21)

Marilyn Boudreaux
Marilyn Boudreaux, Century 21 Bono Realty - Lake Charles, LA
Lake Charles LA Century 21 Realtor

Thanks for sharing a little fo your family history with us.  I am very nostolgic as well and was also a history major.  WWII always fascinated me my Father was a veteran of WWII and married my Mother in 1946.  She told me similar stories of my Dad's nightmares.  We cannot imagine what these brave men experienced but I am so thankful to each veteran for their service.  You are truly paying it forward to a Vet and that is such a great blessing.  I pray just the right client comes along that will be rewarded with your selfless giving.  Way to go!

May 30, 2011 03:11 PM
Robert Amato
Bob Amato of Empire Home Mortgage Inc - East Meadow, NY

Way to pay it forward Phil. Are you a memeber of the "pay it forward" group? If not you should join and post this story there.

May 30, 2011 03:14 PM
Barb Van Stensel
Chicago, IL

J. PHILIP - I LOVE YOUR IDEA AND WILL BE GETTING APPROVAL TO DO ONE DEAL PRO-BONO TO A VETERAN UNDER YOUR TERMS.  I went to bed last night thinking about today and what it all means and I will say this, that it takes a huge commitment for those men and women for what they sacrificed. 

May 30, 2011 03:16 PM
Lora "Leah" Stern 914-772-4528
Coldwell Banker, 170 N Main Street, New City NY 10956 - New City, NY
Real Estate Salesperson

Phillip what a wonderful way of giving back.  Both your post and Sal GUinta's story moved me.  These guys that serve and make it back deserve so much more from us that just our gratitude.  I'm currently working with a client who is just finishing a tour of duty in Iraq.  He just lost 2 members of his batallion and though he's safe, the pain of the loss is unbearable.  I hope he and all the others remaining, make it back safe.

May 30, 2011 03:19 PM
Donna Paul
Keller Williams Realty Gold Coast - Dix Hills, NY
Long Island Home Specialist,All About Real Estate

Hi Jim: That is such a great way to give back and to show them that you care. They have giving so much and I know that they will appreciate all that you have done for them.

May 30, 2011 03:20 PM
Dagny Eason
Dagny's Real Estate - Wilton, CT
Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo

Wow!  That was so phenomenal to watch!   Thanks so much, Phil!   My Dad (a new Norwegian in America) was employed by DuPont during the war as an engineer, and couldn't got to war.   Amazing to watch this video..

May 30, 2011 03:30 PM
Melinda (Mel) Peterson
Grants Pass, OR - Bend, OR
@TheBlessedRealtor - ABR, CRS

Very touching tribute to your father J. Philip.  And your Pro Bono offer is even more heart warming.  May you be blessed indeed!

May 30, 2011 03:43 PM
Carol Culkin
Diamond Partners Inc - Overland Park, KS
Overland Park Residential Real Estate

Phil - What an admirable thing to do and a wonderful tribute. I have many veterans in the family and can appreciate your tribute. Next week I will be driving to the Oxford NY Veterans Nursing Home where I will be visiting my brother in-law and bringing gifts to him and other residents. As I posted tonight on Facebook ...why do people say Happy Memorial Day? Is there anything really happy about remembering those who have lost their lives?...I believe today was a day to reflect.

May 30, 2011 04:08 PM


Thank you for this post. reminds me of all things good about a way of life that must be prized and protected. As you remark about Sal Giunta, the 26 year old Medal of Honor recipient who doesn't consider himself a hero, and would trade it all to have his two friends back who perished the night he won the medal.

Honestly, I wish I could give the guy a hug.

May 30, 2011 04:29 PM
Laurie Jarrett
Keller Williams Realty Heritage-New Braunfels - New Braunfels, TX
REALTOR - New Braunfels, San Marcos, Texas Real Es

I love this. Thanks for sharing about your dad and committing to helping a veteran in need. Sal Giunta's story is so touching.

May 30, 2011 05:39 PM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

I watched Sal's story as well, and your thought about wishing you could give him a hug was just perfect.  Your offer of listing a home gratis is a wonderful way to give back.  Thanks for sharing.

May 30, 2011 11:43 PM
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

That is heartfelt and touching Joe.  Keep those memories, they prod us in life.

May 31, 2011 12:12 AM
Gay E. Rosen
Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty - Larchmont, NY
As Real as Real Estate Gets!

Phil - firstly, you look just like your dad but you must know that.. secondly...  lovely thing to do for a vet..   simply grand! Best, G

May 31, 2011 01:08 PM
Simon Westfall-Kwong
Keller Williams Realty, North Central New Jersey - Chatham, NJ
The Simon Westfall-Kwong Real Estate Group

Phil, you are truly an amazing human and a credit to our society and I am proud and honored to know you!

As an immigrant, my dad was actually on "the other side".  Nonetheless, I imagine his experience and his memories (he passed 11 years ago) were not much different than any other soldier's. 

Yes, it's not about the first weekend of Summer.  It's about the sacrifice made for all of us.

May 31, 2011 01:19 PM
Melissa Brown

Phil, before I read your post, I saw the photo and I thought you were dressed up like at one of those county fairs where they take your picture in a costume.  You are a clone of your Dad!

Then I read your story - what a wonderful tribute to your Dad and your veterans.  I love your idea of giving back to a deserving veteran, and I look forward to reading your blog post about it in the future!

May 31, 2011 01:39 PM
Brenda Mullen
RE/MAX Access - Schertz, TX
Your San Antonio TX Real Estate Agent!!

This is the best memorial day post I have seen and I am sorry I didn't see it sooner so I will suggest it now and hope that it gets featured.  I think that is really pretty cool of you to offer that to a veteran.  I myself am a retired vet and my husband still in.  It astounds me that we have homeless veterans today or those who have other serious housing issues and you are correct, they have had enough to worry about without the world adding more hardship to them.  

Kudos to you and I believe wholeheartedly that you will find that vet to help.  God Bless You.

May 31, 2011 03:51 PM
Wayne Johnson
Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS® - San Antonio, TX
San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale

Phil-Very nice contribution you are making to a lucky veteran. Thanks.

May 31, 2011 05:13 PM
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville
You Rock.
Jun 13, 2011 05:42 AM
Eric Michael
Remerica Integrity, Realtors®, Northville, MI - Livonia, MI
Metro Detroit Real Estate Professional 734.564.1519

Phil, this is awesome. We all try to do what we can to help others but sometimes going above and beyond is just what needs to be done. I'm going to talk to my broker about this and see if I can join in.

Dec 31, 2011 01:24 PM
Morgan Evans
Douglas Elliman Real Estate - Manhattan, NY

Always impressed with everything that you take on Phil.  Hope you and the family had a fun Christmas and new years!

Jan 02, 2012 04:31 AM