A local non-profit needs your help getting a project off the ground.

Project Gallantly Forward aims to make a difference in the lives of local veterans.

Lucas Lewis grew up calling the rolling hills and peaceful countryside home for most of his life.

When he returned after serving two deployments in Iraq, it's where he discovered his purpose in life as a veteran.

"When I first got home it was, figure out how to be a civilian. Figure out how to just get by in life. Everything is so structured in the military, when you get out, it's just pure chaos," he said. "This place I think is what helped me heal and helped me move past all of my military struggles. Being on the farm, being away from all the hustle and bustle every day and being able to come home to this."

Lewis owns Soddy-Daisy Speed Shop by day and maintains his farm with his wife in Graysville when he is at home.

But he knows not all veterans have a story like his. Since returning, Lewis said his unit has lost more soldiers at home than while in combat.

"That probably still hits home harder than anything. That's probably one of the biggest reasons why I started this because without that purpose, without having something to do, a lot of veterans end their lives," he added.

Federal data shows an average of 17 veterans died by suicide every day in 2022.

Lewis wants to reduce that statistic through building a retreat on the same land that helped heal his invisible wounds.

His non-profit called Project Gallantly Forward aims to support veterans through a number of ways, like retreats and training.

"We want to get veterans out here who aren't doing well. Veterans in the court system, homeless veterans, men and women who are just struggling," Lewis said.

A connection made through purpose and resilience.

Project Gallantly Forward is holding a fundraiser this Saturday at Westbound Bar. Proceeds will go toward building a bath house on the property and then the non-profit can begin to built tiny cabins to hold retreats and house veterans.

You can learn more about Project Gallantly Forward online along with more about Saturday's fundraiser.

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