This past Saturday we celebrated Veterans Day. The people who served our nation need support all year long.
One East Tennessee man is committed to helping veterans who are homeless.
"Do our part as Americans. These guys went over and served for us and a lot of them come back in bad situations, so we want to help them every way we can," Willie Franklin said.
That's his mission. He is a horse trainer, a farmer and a professional musician. He also had a close friend who was a veteran.
"My guitar player, who was Dolly Parton's mandolin player for a long time, was Kent Bilbrey. He was a real strong veteran. He as an Air Force veteran who spent his service time in Alaska," Franklin said.
Kent got sick and died a couple years ago. That's when Franklin started researching veterans and what they need: medical care and a place to live.
"I prayed about it and prayed about and finally I got mad at God one day and I said 'You can send somebody and somebody can help these guys,'" he said.
He realized that somebody was himself.
"I come out of my office chair and thought someone had hit me. I mean, I stood up and looked around. It was the hand of God and I can't turn my back on it now. I've got to do my part," he said.
What he is doing is building tiny houses at his farm in Greenback. It's an effort he calls "A Home 4 Hero's."
"We're going to give them a house. We don't ask them for a penny. We just want them to be safe, have a door that will lock, have a place where they can cook, a place where they can kick their feet up and watch TV and just have some peace in their life," he said.
His goal is to set up Honor Villages for veterans with dozens of houses.
"We have discovered some amazing talent from 8-years-old all the way up to 50 to 60-years-old. Just amazing voices," he said.
The next Tennessee Idol competition is this Friday in Knoxville with shows planned in all 95 counties leading up to the finals next spring.
As money comes in, he'll build more tiny houses. Each one costs about $10,000 in materials, some donated, with free labor.
"We have, some say, 300,000 veterans living on the streets in the United States. Well, if every community stepped up and just built five or six or seven houses we could alleviate that problem across the United States. We could do this," Franklin said.
We could give heroes homes.
Tennessee Idol Knoxville is this Friday, Nov. 17, at Rothchild Catering and Conference Center at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door. Veterans get in free.