After more than 17 years working at True Value Manufacturing in Cary, Todd Myers has a reputation in Oregon, Illinois, where he lives, as "the paint guy."
"I'm kind of known in my town as the go-to guy for any paint-related questions," said Myers, senior learning consultant for True Value.
Myers also has spent the past three years donating money to a combat veterans retreat being constructed in Tennessee called the Darkhorse Lodge. So when they asked him if True Value would be interested in donating paint to help with the building of the retreat, he immediately started the process to get approval for it.
According to its website, "Darkhorse Lodge will be a retreat for combat veterans of all branches to come to relax, fish on Kentucky Lake and communicate with others who have walked in their boots."
Myers said the average number of combat veterans who die by suicide on a daily basis is about 22.
"I immediately thought, you know, this is a very worthy cause," Myers said. "It's something that these veterans need, to have a place to go and heal."
Myers went to True Value's Manufacturer's divisional vice president, John Vanderpool, who also saw it as a worthy cause.
"He agreed. ... This is a problem, that not a lot of people have heard about, and [Darkhorse Lodge] is something that can help," Myers said. "It's all about being a good steward and supporting communities and our veterans."
With a new paint store in True Value that recently opened, Myers said, they now have the ability to do that.
Now, True Value is set to send about 50 to 75 gallons, or coverage of 15,000 square feet, to the Darkhorse Lodge through the factory's new Paint Plus Hardware store location. The goal is to get the paint to the Darkhorse Lodge by mid-April.
The lodge is named after the U.S. Marine Corps unit 3/5, or "Darkhorse," which lost 25 people between 2010 and 2011 while fighting in Afghanistan. One of these Marines, Alec Catherwood, was from Byron, which is a town over from Myers, who lives in Oregon, Illinois. It was Alec Catherwood's parents, Gretchen and Kirk, who started the Darkhorse Lodge as a way to honor their son. Being from around the same area, Myers said he had friends in common with the Catherwoods.
"There's been a lot of fundraising efforts over the last couple of years and that's where I really got involved in donating money to the construction of these units," Myers said.
Originally there was going to be five cabins at Darkhorse Lodge, Myers said. Now, there's going to be six guest cabins and then a dining hall, which the paint True Value donates will go to.
The buildings for the retreat are currently up, and everything's drywalled, with electricity running, Myers said.
"This is one of the final steps to actually making this vision a reality," he said. "And as soon as that happens, this place is going to be fantastic."
Recently, the color of the paint was chosen: Moon Glow, and Myers put the order in. True Value will be providing both primer and paint for the project.
Carrie Ward, manager of True Value's Paint Plus Store, initially did not know about the Darkhorse Lodge, but she does have some familiarity with the toll the war can take, as her daughter's uncle was killed in action in Afghanistan.
Ward said color has been proven to brighten people's moods and change their mindsets.
"You think it’s just paint, but it's needed everywhere," Ward said. "If we can do this little bit, just by cleaning, freshening up, making it look good, then that saves them money, too, so they can afford to do other things for veterans [and] to give back different ways."