SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – A U.S. Army Veteran will have a new roof over his head for the winter thanks to a project aimed at helping veterans in need.
Contractors are able to volunteer their services through the Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project.
“We partner with Habitat for Humanity and Owens coordinates the roof deployment project,” Owner of Southern Roofing and Renovation Chase Hoffmann said. “It means a lot to us to be able to come out and build a roof for a veteran in need. So we do a lot of partnerships with them, and we look forward to continue working with them.”
On October 18, Habitat for Humanity and Southern Roofing and Renovation came together to fix Larry Rottman’s roof.
“Building roofs [is] one of the biggest things that we like to concentrate on,” Habitat Springfield Preservation and Repairs Project Manager Kurt Jentzsch said. “It’s that kind of thing, heating and cooling. We’ll do renovations for ADA compliant.”
Rottman’s house was built in 1904, but he’s lived there for 27 years.
“When I went and bought it, it was in pretty bad shape.” Larry Rottman said. “Fortunately, I’m kind of handy. So over the years, I’ve been able to upgrade it here and there, fixing it up inside and outside. But, we’ve had a couple of really bad storms. We had the big ice storm in 2007, I believe, and that did some damage.”
Rottman said he applied and wrote an essay for the Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project. He was glad he was accepted.
“Roofs are expensive, and obviously I’m an old beat-up guy and couldn’t really get up on the roof anymore,” Rottman said.
The work means more to Rottman than just a roof over his head.
“My son, who just retired from 22 years in the Navy, will be inheriting the house,” Rottman said. “So he’ll have a nice roof and a place to just stay and be comfortable.”
Rottman comes from a family of veterans.
“My father, my grandfather, and also my son were all in the military not because we loved it, not because we wanted it,” Rottman said. “The country said, we need you.” We step out, we get up.”
Rottman was drafted and served three years in the U.S. Army, including one in Vietnam.
“I was a lieutenant with the 25th Infantry Division,” Rottman said. “I was in Vietnam during a lot of the worst of the fighting in 1968 during the Tet Offensive. I was wounded but I made it through that and came back and went to college.”
Rottman finished his undergraduate degree at the University of Missouri in Columbia before serving. After his time, he went to get a graduate degree.
“I ended up being a teacher for over 50 years, everything from second grade to graduate school,” Rottman said. “I taught in Japan. I taught in New York City [and] on Indian Reservation in New Mexico.”
Rottman also taught at what used to be Northeast Missouri State, which is now Truman State University. He made 19 trips back to Vietnam following the war.
“The first time I went back, I just went back to see what the country looked like when it wasn’t at war,” Rottman said. “I loved it even more than I did when I was there as a serviceman. I have written a couple of books about it. I made three films in Vietnam trying to tell the story of the culture and the people there instead of just the fighting part.”
Rottman said he is grateful he received a new roof and is looking forward to when his son inherits his home.