WOODBURY, Tenn. (WKRN) – A groundbreaking for an adaptive home for a Tennessee solider was held in Woodbury Wednesday.
Franz Walkup, a Cannon County solider who was injured in combat in Afghanistan, will receive the home after a long battle.
The Purple Heart recipient was injured in 2012 during a gun battle where he was shot a total of five times, including once in the stomach and four times in the back.
Walkup has since undergone 78 surgeries and had to have his leg amputated.
Originally, Walkup, who is wheelchair bound, was denied help from several organizations because they said he wasn’t “injured enough.”
Walkup said he had to submit loads of paperwork to the Veteran’s Association showing how severe his injuries were.
After nine months, the VA approved a grant of nearly $70,000 to help build the adaptive home so Walkup can get around his residence with ease in his wheelchair.
“From being turned away and being told that, you know, you’re not injured enough, the sacrifice wasn’t great enough, now to this,” Walkup said.
Even with the help of the grant, Walkup had to come up with the rest of the money through fundraisers and other organizations that assist wounded warriors.
Now, nearly two dozen nonprofits and businesses have stepped up to make his new home a reality.
The Gary Sinise Foundation, through its Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment program, has taken the lead.
“Our program is Restoring Independence Supporting Empowerment, our Rise program, and that’s what it is about, giving them the independence, supporting their empowerment so they can go on to live their purpose in life,” explained program and outreach director William Wagasy.
Sinise is well-known for playing the role of Lieutenant Dan in the Forrest Gump movie.
The Walkups said they hope to be in their new home by the end of the year.
“The house will make me more independent, it will make my life a lot easier,” Franz said. “With the counter tops a certain height so it easier accessible for me in a wheelchair, from having the bathroom safe for me to use without having the fear that I might fall and break my hip.”
His wife Shannon added, “It’s everything. It’s a forever home. It’s where we’re going to live. It’s where we are going to have children and it’s where we’re going to grow old. The day can’t come soon enough for us to move by to Tennessee.”
Walkup comes from a family of military men and lost his older brother in combat in 2007.