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Tigard resident Craig Brooks receives a bathroom remodel compliments of Baths for the Brave program.

PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Tigard resident Craig Brooks says his new bath/shower remodel will make life easier for him. Brooks served in the U.S. Army in the 1980s.Just in time for Veterans Day, a former U.S. Army veteran from Tigard was recently selected to receive something simple that will make his life a whole lot easier: a brand-new, easy-access shower system, a gift from Baths for the Brave.

On Friday, Nov. 5, crews from Jacuzzi Bath Remodel of Portland were busy installing the new bathroom system for Craig Brooks.

"They're doing a good job," said Brooks as the company finished up its work, noting that the new equipment will make his life easier.

He said it was a surprise to him when he found out his wife had nominated him to receive the upgrade. Brooks has been diagnosed with liver failure, causing muscle weakness, which makes it difficult to get in and out of his current bathtub and shower.

Andy Wahlund, general manager for Jacuzzi Bath Remodel of Portland — despite the company's name, it's headquartered in Tigard — said plans were to give Brooks a system that was accessible and safe while making him feel comfortable while he's showering.

Along with his crew, Wahlund was working to beat the one-day-installation deadline Friday afternoon. He said hearing the stories about veterans fearing what they have to go through to take a bath or shower makes him happy he's able to help out by "just being able to give back and help them have a slightly better life."

"They served us without asking for anything back and what can we do to do our part and hopefully all of us together turns into something bigger," he said. "We're taking out an old steel bathtub (which has) a pretty high step and making it a low step-in shower, removing the area above the ceiling so it's taller, moving the faucet up, putting in a new shower pan, new walls, new faucet, new handheld shower and a new fold-down seat."PMG PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Tanner David, an employee with Tigards Jacuzzi Bath Remodel of Portland, works on a drain pipe Friday during a one-day bathroom remodel of Craig Brooks Tigard home, compliments of the national program, Baths for the Brave.

The Baths for the Brave program began five years ago and so far has helped more than 60 veterans throughout the United States. The remodeling timeframes are in honor of Veterans Day, which is Thursday, Nov. 11.

Brooks served in the U.S. Army from 1980-84, where he spent two years in Germany and 18 months in Fort Lewis before being sent to Honduras in 1984, supporting that country's government against rebels based in a neighboring Central American country.

"I was a combat engineer, and we had to go there and build three airstrips," said Brooks. "The insurgents were coming up from Nicaragua and tried to stop us."

After his military service, Brooks continued to work with machinery — as a professional welder — giving him some extra appreciation for the work that Wahlund and his people did on Friday.COURTESY PHOTO: EVOLVE PR AND MARKETING - Heres what Craig Brooks bathroom looked like before the remodel, making it difficult for him to get in and out safely.

The Baths for the Brave program was founded by Brian Gottlieb, chief executive officer of Tundraland Home Improvements. It so far has provided more than $750,000 worth of bathroom remodeling services. This was the first year the program had a recipient in the Portland area.

"We are humbled and honored by the outpouring of support from other businesses across the country that help us make these remodels possible," said Gottlieb. "Without their support, we would not be able to transform the lives of our veterans who have given so much to our country."COURTESY PHOTO: EVOLVE PR AND MARKETING - The work crew for Tigards Jacuzzi Bath Remodel of Portland pose with Craig Brooks, fourth from left, Friday after finishing a remodel of his shower.

This year, 10 companies across 10 states participated in the event.

As the work crew finished up the project on Friday, Brooks' wife, Debbie, said she was impressed with how the bathroom was being transformed.

"It's looking so good. It looks amazing," she said. "He's got some special needs that he was not feeling safe getting in and out of the other one, and this is just going to be amazing for him. It's going to change his quality of life completely, so it's incredible."COURTESY PHOTO: EVOLVE PR AND MARKETING - Craig Brooks and his wife Debbie were extremely pleased with the way their new bath/shower remodel turned out thanks to Baths for the Brave.

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