Appraisers saving our veterans in need

From my friend, Dave Biggers at a la mode, Inc.  Let’s see what we can do to help out here peeps!


A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by one of our appraisal customers, Carol Huffman, asking if we could help a group of current and former Marines who were on a grassroots mission to save fellow veterans at risk of suicide.

Carol’s daughter is one of those former Marines and founders of the group, and also happens to be a staff appraiser with her.  I know many of you appraisers have military backgrounds as well, and the story I’m about to tell will hit home.  As an Army brat myself, the son of an appraiser and Vietnam veteran, I was committed the moment I heard it.  And I knew right then that we couldn’t just stop at building a website for them (Carol’s original request).  We needed to get them across the goal line completely.  That’s why I’m writing to you today.

We’re determined to raise at least $500,000 for them as quickly as possible, starting now on Veterans Day.  I’m personally contributing $250,000 of that on a dollar-for-dollar match — doubling whatever you give — so give as much as possible.  Please visit to help us get there.

You don’t have to be an a la mode customer.  You just have to care about the veterans that we depend on every day to keep us safe.  They’ve done their job.  Now it’s time to do ours.

But first, let me tell you the story.  It starts with a number much smaller than 500,000.
It starts with 22.

Twenty-two.  22.  Remember that number as you keep reading.  Because that’s how many veterans commit suicide every single day.  That’s 22 too many.  That’s one every hour.  It’s a huge and unacceptable number — in fact, last year alone, veteran suicide claimed more American lives than the 14 years of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

So, sixty minutes after you read this email, another will be gone — that is, unless we all do something about it.

That’s what Carol’s daughter and fellow appraiser, Jessica, and a small group of other Marines did.  After a veteran friend took his life, they simply decided to get up and act.  They decided it wasn’t someone else’s job.  As Carol put it so well on our initial phone call, “It started with five Marines trying to save one’s life and quickly grew into 3000 on Facebook offering to drive anywhere, any time, to save the next one.”

Now that group has become “official”, as an IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit company, appropriately named “The Chesty Puller House”.  If you’re not militarily inclined, you might wonder what the name means.  It’s significant, and it’s tied directly into the reason for raising $500,000.

Marine Corps Lieutenant General Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller was a legend to all Marines and all veterans in the years before and after WWII.  With an incredible five Navy Crosses, along with a Distinguished Service Cross awarded by the Army, Chesty became the only veteran ever to receive so many of our nation’s second-highest recognitions of valor, below only the Medal of Honor.  And yet bravery couldn’t save Chesty’s family from suffering exactly what we’re fighting here.  His son, Lewis, severely wounded in Vietnam, committed suicide in 1994.  He became one of the “twenty-two” that we’re fighting for today.

But now, in a twist relevant to all real estate appraisers, Chesty Puller’s former house in Saluda, VA, could play a crucial role in helping other veterans suffering like Lewis.  Chesty and his wife, Virginia, were known for opening the home to Marines of all ranks — seating privates and generals at the same table.  Now it’s for sale, and the Chesty Puller House charity intends to buy it, renovate it, and use it as an events center, headquarters, national lifeline, and “spiritual beacon” for at-risk veterans of all branches, continuing in Chesty and Virginia’s tradition.  Proceeds generated through its events operations will continue funding the Chesty Puller House mission:  To never leave a brother or sister behind.

Back when the group started, the last line posted by a veteran friend in a suicide note on Facebook, imploring them to save others, was “the door is unlocked”.  So it’s fitting that we should help Chesty Puller House physically unlock the door to veterans in need.

But first, they have to buy it.  Anyone else could snap it up.  We have to hurry for that reason, as well as for the 22.  Every hour counts, so donate now, while you’re thinking about it.

That twenty-two can be reduced to zero by the work of one: You.  You can tell all your friends about the donations page at  You can forward this email to every friend, appraiser, Realtor, broker, underwriter, regulator, inspector, and veteran that you know.  You can push me past the $250,000 dollar-for-dollar match limit by showing me that you won’t stop at $500,000.  I’m counting on you. And the twenty-two are counting on you as well.

We CAN make this happen.  We WILL make this happen.  At this time of year, when petty politics and holiday consumerism often overshadow the somber remembrance of Veterans Day, we MUST make this happen.

I need to thank Carol and all the folks at Chesty Puller House for bringing this so vividly to my attention.  And I want to thank you in advance for anything you do to help.  Visit the donations page and let’s get going.

Dave Biggers
a la mode, inc.

9 thoughts on “Appraisers saving our veterans in need”

  1. Pingback: Appraisers saving our veterans in need - Appraisal Buzz

  2. I certainly support the effort to help our veterans in need of what ever they require. Our goverment does not do enough for our veterans. As a prior military member I support all of our armed forces and am grateful for their service and the work they do. KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK.

  3. 22. I will guess my views are in the minority and generally I would say politics and appraisal ought to be separate issues…but since this blog is going there, I suppose I will too. There are few things more sad than vets coming home and committing suicide due to PTSD. I think the charity home is a nice idea and shows the generosity of the American public. Shameful the military is failing in this category (among others). I will not donate to this cause for reasons of personal beliefs. My financial donations occur every time I pay taxes and every time congress spends in excess of what I have donated on my future behalf. I believe the best way to protect our troops is to avoid war. I thought the Monroe Doctrine was a solid idea. Violence begets violence and peace begets peace. Do we lash back at our children who act out violently? No. We hug them with love and show them a better way. I am not naïve to the perpetual existence of evil men who will stop at nothing to gain power. I just think there are better ways to keep these men in check. The problem of war must be solved at its inception, which is the war-mongering ways of too many powerful leaders in the world today. Politics is no more polarized or biased than it ever was. In fact, it could be said Americans are more apathetic towards politics than ever. Politics is almost taboo to discuss. That dynamic allows the people in charge who prefer war over peace to operate without resistance, and in the case of many Americans, with fanfare. Traumatized soldiers are a product of a sick civilian population. The best way to stop soldiers from coming home traumatized is to stop supporting them going away in the first place. Peace.

    1. M as a former Marine I know who Chesty Puller was. I can also profoundly respect your heartfelt pacifist views. But PLEASE do not tell us “violence begets violence and peace begets peace” as if it is some kind of universal truth rather than a pitiful euphemism used by only the naïve leftists in our nation; along with those dyed in the wool pacifists like yourself.

      Do not perpetuate the myth! The recent attacks in Paris by ISLAMIC, ARAB TERRORISTS were not in response to some purported offense committed by western powers. It was not violence begotten by violence. It was violence “begotten” because of a perversion or adherence (take your pick) to or of a specific religion. This was not an aberration. Muslims have been attacking Americans BECAUSE of our non Muslim beliefs for over 200 years now. LONG BEFORE Israel was a state; or before Palestinians meant only ARAB Palestinians. Long before the Turks lost control of the Levant (the original ISIL), & LONG before most Americans (other than slave traders) even had any idea that Arabs existed.

      ISLAMIC TERRORISTS and PIRATES have been attacking Americans (as well as Europeans) WITHOUT provocation since the late 1790’s. The reason was (then) that their religion allowed and even demanded that they either convert infidels by the sword, or make them pay a tax to their Islamic rulers (then the Ottoman Turks). Though we called them pirates back then (specifically Barbary Coast Pirates, or Barbary Pirates) because we did not understand the concept of Islamic Fundamentalism, they were the SAME ENEMY that we face today. Even back then prisoners that converted to Islam were set free. It was those that did not that were tortured, killed or held for ransom. We were attacked for no other reason than we (our sailors) were NOT Muslims. We had not committed violence upon ANY Muslims at that point n our history. We WERE the isolationists that you describe. Certainly our peaceful trading did not “beget peaceful trading” in return.

      In 1801 we finally had enough. We went from a President with a demeanor that was not unlike Obama has today. One of supplication; cowering and bribery; to one that believed in justice, freedom and standing up for our rights as human beings.

      THAT is how Chesty Pullers most beloved song, The Marine Corps Hymn got its first verse. “From the Halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli…”

      Donate or do not donate as your conscience dictates but save your naïve and downright subversive childish beliefs that you are “protecting our brave soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen from harm, by opposing war.” The only thing cowering in fear before an enemy does; ESPECIALLY an Arab one, is to INVITE them to attack a demonstrably weak target.” I’ll donate in your name (or anonymous initial). “Peace”.

      1. OK “M”, donation made. YOUR name will appear on the CP website. Thank YOU for angering me enough to take action NOW instead of procrastinating.

        1. Why on Earth would you make a donation in my name? How very left-minded of you. I can act on my own behalf from now on thanks. If I ever need to start a war, I’ll give you call and see if your game. For now I’m good.

          As far as I’m concerned, the best way to deal with Islam/Muslims is to quarantine their nations from trade and movement and deny their refugees entrance when they begin to kill each other as the only ones left in the ring. Maybe then their “moderate” populations will weed out their radicals. They can come to the party when they learn some manners. If they want to read the “be nice to each other” playbook, the US constitution is public knowledge.

          So long as we continue to invade their nations, kill their people and (attempt to) impose our beliefs, their accusations that we are aggressors are accurate. It doesn’t matter who started it (and you call ME childish). All we are doing is stirring the hornets nest and giving them justification to continue attacking us. Let the hornets be hornets in their own part of the forest. Destroy the nest when it is built on the house.

          Pacifist? Maybe. Strategist? Definitely.

      2. Mike,
        Let me start by saying I do support the cause and our troops in every way and have donated to CP site this evening. I have to say though from your post, and quick reprimand of M’s opinion, you sir, and this bigoted way of thinking are part of the problem and in no way part of any solution. Your history lesson is grossly inaccurate, making your arguments seem to be very biased ramblings that hold little if any truth. In short its ignorance. All intolerance is simply ignorance. There is a difference in someone who practices the Muslim religion and a terrorists. If we are going to persecute someone for being Muslim to protect and save our wonderful country, then we have already lost. If we lose sight of why our great county is what it is then there is nothing left worth fighting for. Your ascertation that the saying “Violence begets Violence” is a myth is simply absurd and has been proven over and over in the History books. Over and over again history has proven you to be very wrong about this, 9/11 for example. How do we respond to violence? Pretty sure it was with more violence. Violence Begets Violence. It cant be argued, and in trying to do so you have made yourself look foolish. Look at Martin Luther King JR, or Gondi, but I can tell by your post you clearly know more, and are far more enlightened on global politics and discrimination than some of the brightest and most progressive thinkers of our time. I am quite sure the recent attacks were retaliation for something, whether founded or not, propaganda, or an imagined slight, true or not the extremist group did it in retaliation or to gain attention for whatever their cause is. I support our troops and am so grateful that I live in a country where I am free to express my opinions without fear of prosecution, and realize we owe a great debt to our service men and women, one that we can likely never repay. But guess what, they enjoy the same freedoms, so they are fighting/have fought for themselves as well. Your response just goes to show what I have found true without fail in the Real Estate world, if you have a plumber look at a house it has plumbing problems, electrician finds electrical issues etc. Your response is stereotypical, fight first think the problem through last, if at all. There is a huge difference in cowering in fear, and not stooping to a terrorist’s level and endangering potentially innocent HUMAN life. I do not completely agree with M’s logic either, however believe it is far more solid, prudent and wise than the rhetoric you regurgitated. This is why we have soldiers and leaders. I am very thankful you are not one of these leaders sir. This is in no way saying anything negative about our service men and women, they have my unwavering respect and support and deserve it and much more. But you have not done them a service with your comments, instead you, in a way undermined what they are fighting for with your intolerant, inaccurate, and offensive comments.

  4. My dad fought at the Chosin Reservoir under Chesty Puller. Dad always said Chesty was a Marine’s Marine. He got to shake Chesty’s hand while he was in Korea. Dad always said if it weren’t for Chesty Puller’s leadership nobody would have made it out of there. Dad used to have nightmares after he got home. He would be climbing the walls trying to escape his nightmares. Mom would be screaming trying to wake him. I was a small kid and thought my Dad was beating my mother. It seems strange but I was glad the first time I found out Dad had PTSD (of course it was called something else then). At least I knew he wasn’t hurting my mom and I really hated thinking that he had been. My Dad was my hero and Chesty was his. Please support this cause if you can.

  5. Doug, Chesty Puller (along with his less famous younger brother Peter) were EVERY Marines hero. If your Dad was fought at the Chosin withdrawal, then he was OUR hero too! Semper Fi!

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