Tommy Norman has lived most of his life in Charlotte and joined the Army after graduating from Wake Forest, serving stateside in the Special Forces until 1972. He worked in banking in New York City for three years before returning to Charlotte and starting Norcom Properties, a commercial real-estate firm. In the late 1980s, Norman and two friends raised more than $350,000 to build a memorial in uptown Charlotte to honor the 101 natives of the city killed in Vietnam.
When a friend, retired Army Col. Kevin McDonnell, director of the U.S. Special Operations Command Care Coalition, asked a favor: Could he help a severely wounded Iraqi war veteran who wanted to move to Charlotte? Norman didn't hesitate. "They've done everything their country has asked of them," Tommy said. "Look at what (veterans) have being doing - at war or on a mission every day and suddenly it's all over."
Then came another call and another. Norman and his wife, Patty, were soon welcoming veterans into their home and helping them find jobs or places to live or schools for their children. As the calls kept coming, he quickly realized the need was far outpacing their efforts.
With support from the Charlotte business community and Foundation for the Carolinas, he founded Veterans Bridge Home. He serves as chair of its board of directors and a tireless advocate for giving veterans an opportunity to serve again, in the civilian world. The Charlotte Observer named him among those shaping the Charlotte region on its "Seven to Watch" list for 2013.