For the past five years, John Greene, a 75-year-old US Army veteran, has spent too many winter nights sleeping in his car. His home is in such disrepair, that sleeping with the engine running gives some relief to the colder evenings.
But now, one American Legion post and a group of veteran volunteers are working to change that. For more than three months, American Legion post 516 has been working with Eddie Felton to get Greene’s house fixed up.
When Felton, who served 26 years in the Navy, heard about his friend sleeping in his car, he knew he had to do something.
“That’s something that is totally unacceptable, it could kill him,” says Felton.
He quickly contacted Legion post 516 in McDonough, Georgia, about an hour from Greene’s home in Barnesville, to see if anything could be done.
“He really didn’t have flushing toilets or a means of cooking,” says Felton. “He didn’t really have anything at all.” Within two days, post 516 was on the scene surveying the condition.
“We came to the realization that he had termite and water damage,” says Felton. “What we started to do is to build a house from the inside out.”
Several companies and organizations have stepped up, including Home Depot, but more is needed. “We want to have Mr. Greene in his house before it gets cold,” says Felton. “We don’t want him another day in the cold, and we are working diligently to try and make this happen.”
What initially began just as a volunteer project on Saturdays has evolved into a 6-day a week operation, that would not possible if it weren’t for the efforts of American Legion post 516, and its commander, Alton Head.“They are willing to go above and beyond, with no recognition to try and get this done,” says Felton.
“I retired from the Navy after 26 years, and I have never in my life seen a Legion post as hardworking as those individuals are,” he continues. “When it comes to helping people in the community, I think all the American Legion posts should model themselves after post 516.”
Felton and post 516 have a GoFundMe page to finance the home’s repairs, including electric and plumbing upkeep.
Currently, Mr. Greene is staying with his niece, with the hope that he can move into his newly renovated house by Thanksgiving.
“I’m looking forward to it, I’ve been here every day seeing the work everyone has been doing,” says Mr. Greene. “I appreciate everything, the work and money they gave to help me out, I truly appreciate it.”
Mr. Greene is on such a limited income, that the routine upkeep and maintenance a house requires had largely fallen by the wayside. Felton says the water damage alone would be considered a disaster, but with the termite damage, he’s afraid the house would eventually fall in on itself.
For Felton, this is a chance to help a friend, and to honor a fellow veteran’s service.
“Every Veterans Day, everyone says thank you for your service, and they want to give you all the compliments, but here we have a veteran that is 75 years old that has been living in these conditions for quite a while, and nobody has stepped up to do anything at all to assist him—that’s a major travesty,” he says.
“With Mr. Greene being a veteran, we always hear thank you for your service, I say to people, do they really mean it?”
The group is looking to raise $15,000 for the project, and as of Monday had raised $1,650 with the GoFundMe. To donate online, click here.
Donations can also be made by mailing to the American Legion Post 516, P.O. Box 605 McDonough, GA 30253.