COVINGTON- Army Staff Sgt. John Levis Carroll served his country twice until he was injured.
Despite a successful job and supportive family, loved ones say the consequences of that service got the best of the 42-year-old.
"My son is a drug addict, but he's also a veteran," said John's father, Mickey Carroll, a Junior Vice Commander of the local VFW. "I don't know where he is, but I hope he's in a place like this."
Carroll's heartbreaking story about the homeless reality of many of our country's veterans is the driver behind Camp N.O.R.A., which stands for "No One Rides Alone."
It's a transitional home on 17 acres in rural Covington aimed at helping homeless veterans get back on their feet, then back out into society on their own. The property used to be Danielle Inn, an orphanage, and then home for pregnant women.
There are more than 200,000 veterans in Louisiana; 20,000 are in St. Tammany Parish. In 2016, the rate of veterans without a home in St. Tammany went up 15%.
The facility can house 14 to 16 veterans, however, the trial run beginning in March will open the doors to four veterans. Those applying will go through an evaluation process first and if accepted, their recovery happens in three phases.
The first phase will get the veteran registered with the Veterans Affairs system, if not already registered. It will get the veteran comfortable in their new environment and settled with any medical needs. The second phase will be identifying the veteran's desired path -- education, vocation or a job. The organization has partnerships in all three directions to help veterans follow their chosen path, including the new Veterans Court in the 22nd JDC. The third phase is graduating out of the program by setting the veteran up with their own apartment and helping furnish that apartment.
Programs can vary from six months to two years depending on the veteran's need.
Camp N.O.R.A. is being run by "The Ride of the Brotherhood" organization, a non-profit made up of veterans dedicated to helping other veterans through the same struggles they've defeated personally. The organization began as a mission to locate and bring back the remains of American soldiers who fought and died in Vietnam.
"When a veteran took an oath, he took an oath to defend his country, fight for his country, even die for his country, not to be forgotten by his country," said founder Ed Lewis, a Vietnam veteran.
Though the doors of Camp N.O.R.A. are set to officially open in about a month, there's still a lot of work to be done. The organization needs help getting the grounds ready, getting the building ready, and once the veterans get there, having enough volunteers and funding to keep the operation going and growing.
For now, the biggest needs are men's clothing, single beds, chests of drawers, night stands, roofing work and long-term corporate sponsorships.
Organizers hope to one day develop other low-income housing on the property, as well as create a garden and bring in livestock for veterans to manage and live off of.
Carroll was one of the first volunteers to sign up.
"They stand it alone and they die alone and places like this can change that," he said.
He hopes if his son sees this, he'll come home knowing there's now help close by to his still supportive family, if he wants it.
Click here to go the organization's website and learn details on how to apply, how to donate or how to volunteer.