Honored for giving back
When a Little Falls soldier's daughter suffered unexplained migraines, they called Craig McMillan for help.
McMillan, who runs Dust Busters, an Alexandria furnace and duct cleaning business, didn't know it was a military family at first. He and two partners, Dean Swanson who runs Mid Minnesota Heating and Air Conditioning in Parkers Prairie, and Jeremiah Mohr, a Dust Busters franchise owner in Pine City, went to work on the family's home.
Migraines interfered with the girl's ability to attend school, and her father seemed desperate for answers, McMillan said.
The three men found that the home's previous owner had not only improperly built ductwork made of wood, but had installed it incorrectly, preventing the house from venting properly. Mold and mildew had built up, including black mold.
"We went out there and couldn't believe what we were seeing," McMillan said.
The home needed all new ductwork, a costly project.
As the team worked from room to room, McMillan began noticing uniforms.
"Suddenly I realized we're in a military household," he said.
He found out the the girl's father, Sgt. Emmett Klucas, serves in the Army National Guard.
That was when he had an idea. After conferring with his partners, they agreed to donate their work for the family. After the family paid, the three men wrote a letter thanking the family for their military service and returned their check - for $3,794.06.
Military service is like electricity, easy to take for granted, McMillan said. But if it disappears, "Holy smokes, you could only imagine," he said. "This is a small token of our appreciation."
The military reciprocated. After Klucas informed them of the men's good deed, its Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve agency recently awarded McMillan the Seven Seals Award for supporting a service member and his family. He accepted it on behalf of his partners as well, he said. The agency's mission is to promote awareness and understanding of the role of the Army Guard and Reserve.
As for Klucas' daughter, who is 10, she still has a way to go, but her health has improved, her father said.