Local non-profit plans to create community for veterans in need

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PARIS, Tex. (KXII) "I don't want any veteran to ever go through what I went through," said non-profit President, Ashley Waggoner.

Waggoner says there should be no homeless veterans.

"I was a homeless veteran in Washington when I was 4 months pregnant and I had my four-year-old son," said Waggoner.

She tried the V.A., but was turned away.

"They told me even if they didn't, even if they had space, they couldn't help my son and my husband because they don't house the family unit," said Waggoner.

For her, that wasn't enough. So, she got to work.

"You can give someone a home and it's amazing, but you need more than just a home," said Waggoner.

That's how she got the idea for the non-profit: Houses for Heroes. They plan to build on land between Paris and the Fannin County line for ease of access to the Bonham V.A. But she says their plan doesn't stop at homes.

"It's not just gonna be you know a bunch of homes out in the middle of nowhere, this is gonna be a small community," said Volunteer Director, Ryan Crawford.

Like Waggoner, Crawford says it's a personal project they are determined to bring to life. They plan to offer services to help veterans get their benefits...and receive help with PTSD.

"I suffer from PTSD. It's always been one of my main missions to help other veterans that have suffered from PTSD, and really kind of help take control back of their life," said Crawford.

Their 501c3 has been pending due to the pandemic. But with donations coming in and contractors already asking how they can help, they hope to begin building in the coming months.

"If they would've had this program for me and my children, it would've been amazing . I would've had hope, I would've been more successful. Maybe I wouldn't have tried to take my life. Maybe my PTSD wouldn't have gotten as far as it did," said Waggoner.

You can find their Facebook page by clicking this link.

"We should lead them to success and make them feel loved and welcomed and build that community," said Waggoner.