CHEATHAM COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Cheatham County veteran is getting a new outlook on life after community members joined together to build him a tiny house with running water.
John Peterson told News 2 he went straight into the military after graduating high school in 1972, where he worked on various aircrafts at Shaw, Chanute, and Lackland Air Force bases.
“The draft ended in March of ‘72, and I joined in May of ‘72… I was going to go in regardless,” Peterson said. “We built J79 General Electric turbojets for B-52s and F4 fighters. And I loved my job, almost reenlisted, but music called me out.”
After moving from city to city, Peterson said set his eyes on Cheatham County, where he bought a piece of land roughly 10 years ago. Since then, he’s lived in his truck and a barn he built.
“I’m a country boy,” Peterson recalled. “It was just too much for me, so I had to find some woods, and luckily I found this place.”
When some community members learned he was living without running water, in a barn with extensive roof damage from storms, they felt inclined to help.
“After meeting John and becoming friends with him, I mean, no one should live without running water, so that was my first, and he’s just such a nice guy, so it’s just become my mission. We’re going to finish this house and get him in there,” said Diana Lovell, who helped organize the project.
Board by board, each and every part of this tiny home has come together, thanks to the kindness of volunteers and people who donated materials and money to the project.
“There were particular neighbors that kind of started everything, and they really wanted John out because he wasn’t living legally, and so that’s how we all kind of met and got to know everybody, and we decided we wanted to help John because he didn’t deserve what was happening to him,” neighbor Robin Ziemke said.
Following this act of kindness, Peterson said he hopes to pay it forward and find a way to help other veterans.
“Cheatham County is the most amazing people I’ve ever seen in my life. Back home, this wouldn’t happen,” Peterson said. “It has been the biggest blessing of my life, except for the birth of my children. It’s just been, I feel like I’m in a dream-like state.”
Last week, a local VFW held a fundraiser for Peterson, which helped raise nearly $9,000, according to Lovell.
Project organizers are still looking for certain appliances to complete the project. They will also welcome any additional monetary donations.
For more information about donating to the John Peterson Fund, you can call 615-838-2217 or visit a local United Community Bank.