HAMPTON — Vince McVicker was expecting a contractor to call him back with an estimate for roof repairs.
Instead, the call to the Vietnam War veteran brought news that made his wife cry: Their roof would be entirely replaced, free of charge. Crews tore off the old shingles bright and early Thursday morning.
A partnership between Habitat for Humanity, Owens Corning and Newport News-based Colony Construction made it possible. Colony Construction is providing the labor, while Owens Corning, a roofing materials company, donated the construction materials, including shingles supposed to last 50 years. Habitat for Humanity provided additional material for the project.
“Blessed” is the word McVicker used multiple times to describe how he felt about receiving a new roof for the house that he shares with his wife and two daughters. McVicker, a Hampton resident of more than 30 years, has lived in the house since 1995. According to him, the house has not had a new roof since 1953, when it was built.
Part of the roof blew off during a storm last year, and it began to leak. Unable to afford a new roof, McVicker chose to patch up the worst spots. Colony Construction founder Herb Paynter said he counted four different colors of shingles on the roof.
“When I walked on it, I was seriously afraid that I was going to fall through it,” Paynter said.
McVicker, an Army veteran, served in Vietnam for eight months was discharged Dec. 26, 1965. He planned to re-enlist but changed his mind when he “realized that they weren’t going to let us win.”
He described the transition back into civilian life as “rough.” Decades later, he still struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder. McVicker believes that America and its politicians mistreat veterans, denying them the care that they need when they return home from duty. He expressed gratitude to those who do support veterans, including everyone who came together to replace his roof.
“I keep wondering, Why me? because there’s so many others that need help and they’re not getting it, not from our government.… There’s really not enough people out there like Herbie Paynter,” McVicker said.
Last year, Colony Construction, worked on a veteran’s roof in Virginia Beach, Paynter said, and plans to repair a wooden wrap around a World War II veteran’s house in Seaford. The McVickers volunteered to cover the costs of the materials for the Seaford veteran to “pay it forward,” and Paynter will once again charge nothing for the labor.
Paynter said his philanthropy toward veterans was a way to give back to the community.
“Veterans have a special place in my heart,” he said. “My birthday is on Veterans Day.… Our veterans are overlooked, they’re mistreated. I don’t think that they get what they deserve. I’ve always made it a habit to go out of my way to say thank you or buy them a meal in a restaurant just to say that we do appreciate what you’re doing.”
Owens Corning launched its own endeavor, the Roof Deployment Project, in 2016 to cover roofing material costs for veterans in partnership with independent contractors who provide free labor for those projects. Colony Construction is one of its Platinum contractors.
Janet Green, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of the Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg, said she has enjoyed giving back, especially to Vietnam War veterans who faced hostility after returning to the United States.
“It’s a great partnership, especially in this community where there are so many veterans and military members who do so much for all of us,” she said. “To have Colony Roofing and Owens Corning donate, it’s such a wonderful partnership, and we’d like to do as many of them as we can.”
Construction on the McVickers’ home extends past the new roof. Workers also replaced the house’s rafters, part of the frame where it was rotting and some of the siding that had covered that rotting. They expect to finish the roof on Friday.