LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. — A homeless retired U.S. Army Sergeant who spent his income helping other veterans battling post-traumatic stress with his passion for art was gifted a brand new home in Virginia.
HeroHomes, a non-profit organization, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday to hand over the keys to a finished home to U.S. Army Veteran Vainuupo "AV" Avegalio.
The organization's donation and help from contractors and local Loudoun businesses were able to fund all of the building costs and furnishings for Avegalio's new home in Purcellville, Va.
According to HeroHomes, Avegalio is an amateur poet and visual artist. Both his poetry and his art deal with war experience and trauma. He spends his time volunteering at correctional facilities and works with at-risk youth to help prevent suicide through his art and poetry workshops. They said he was sleeping in his car while traveling across the country to help veterans in need and even used his money from the Army for his workshops and supplies.
Avegalio has performed his readings across the United States and just recently hit the big screen in his debut in the HBO documentary, We Are Not Done Yet.
“Military life was both a blessing and a curse. It took me to places I could have only dreamed of growing up on the Samoan Islands. I witnessed horror, destruction, merciless acts of inhumanity. I saw acts of gallantry and heroism. I sent and welcomed many good friends home. I was shot at by enemies. I was spit on by the people we fought to protect. Through 12 years of service and even today, a battle deep within me grew stronger with each breath and every thought, a battle with myself.”
Avegalio said he hopes to use the basement in his new home, which has been renovated to his art studio, to continue his work helping others.
HeroHomes is a nonprofit established in 2017 that gives veterans the ability to live independently and to provide for their future.
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