OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - A disabled Air Force veteran from Omaha is using his hobby of fixing electronics to help other veterans in need.
Todd Hering served in the Air Force for nine years and then spent the rest of his career working for an airline. Three years ago, he injured his toe so badly it later infected his leg, resulting in several surgeries and ultimately, had to have his right leg amputated.
To keep busy, Hering taught himself how to restore stereos. He starting reading books about how to fix electronics and eventually learned how to restore televisions.
Hering gathered broken TVs, restored them, and through word-of-mouth, donated the flat screen TVs to veterans who didn't own one.
"I started putting ads on Craigslist and recently Facebook, asking people for broken TVs - I don't need working ones, just broken ones, and then I have a little interview with the vet and give them a working flat screen for free," said Hering.
Hering says he only gives the TVs to vets who follow his criteria: an honorably discharged vet who has little to no income, and has a will to make their life better.
"I make sure these TVs are going to veteran that can't afford a TV. The last two I gave away were to two vets who were in a homeless shelter here in town. They were helped to get a job and find a living establishment and they didn't have anything - just a bed and a table," said Hering.
In total, Hering has restored at least 50 TVs but has nearly 100 sitting in his house.
"Most of them are in my basement. My neighbor across the street helps me carry them down because with my prosthetic leg, I can't do it by myself. I can't carry them up and down the stairs so he comes over and help me out. And he's actually a Navy vet so he's right here with me on this," said Hering.
Hering, who is a on fixed income and lives off of his social security disability, uses his own money to buy parts he needs. He says the extra cost is part of fulfilling his hobby.
"This is important to me. It just keeps me a hundred percent busy. Non-stop," said Hering. "I enjoy it. The disability, well it's a hindrance in a way but it doesn't affect my attitude, it doesn't affect my mood."
He says friends have suggested Hering open up his own electronic repair shop.
"I tell them no, because then my hobby becomes my job and it's not fun anymore," said Hering. "Plus the vets need me. I mean, I just see these guys at the VA all the time - males and females, and I see how they walk around with their head hung down and I just want to help them get back on track."
Hering hopes to expand his mission to other states.
Hering is also asking for broken TVs that could be donated to him so he can restore and gift to a veteran in need. He will pick the TVs up himself. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.