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Iraq veteran gifted brand new mortgage-free home in Conway

Lance Corporal Cory Hixson was hit by a bomb while serving in Iraq in 2004. Years after his service, he now has a forever home for he and his family.

CONWAY, Ark. — Sitting off the side of Tyler St. in Conway is the beginnings of a house.

"We are standing here in a 2,800 square-foot home in Conway, Arkansas, specifically made and designed with a wounded veteran in mind," Beth Franks, husband to the builder of the house, Bret, said. 

But this is no ordinary house – it's the beginning of a home, and built for one of the United States' heroes.

"A family that's been through a lot has a place to call their own, and this can be their forever home," Franks said.

This veteran has been through and sacrificed more than we can ever thank him for. Lance Corporal Cory Hixson was hit by a bomb while serving in Iraq in 2004.

Fragments from the bomb damaged the marine's body, leaving him with PTSD, a traumatic brain injury, and the loss of one of his eyes.

"They train them to go to war, but they don't train them to come home," Shala Hixson, Cory's wife, said. "They certainly don't train the people around them to be in their lives and a positive influence all the time."

Shala and Cory are originally from Colorado, and now live in Tennessee. But they'll eventually call Conway home – this house will be theirs.

It's part of Operation Finally Home, an organization whose mission is to get veterans into their own homes.

"They didn't ask for this," Franks said. "They were nominated by someone else, and it was a complete surprise for them."

This house was built specifically for the Hixson's, with rooms for their two kids – Franks even gave THV11 a tour.

Best of all, when the Hixson's move in, they'll move in mortgage free.

"She said, my whole dreams came true," Shala said. "I said, 'what's that,' she said 'my momma's getting a house, my whole dreams came true.'"

The Hixson's will be close to the VA in Little Rock, and can call central Arkansas home.

Notes of love and encouragement fill the walls inside, but it's what's outside that's already made this feel like home.

"When we were at the notes of love ceremony, I got a beautiful gift," Franks said, holding back tears. "I got to witness Shala looking out the back door and watching her son and my son play in the backyard under the tree."

There's still work to be done until the Hixson's can move in, but Cory said that's okay.

Even though the Hixson's and the Franks haven't known each other very long, they're watching out for each other – something Cory said we should all do.

"Even if it hurts, even if you're scared, always take care of each other," Cory said. "Appreciate where you're at, because it could always be worse."

Franks said supply chain issues caused by the pandemic have made it difficult to finish the home sooner, but they plan on having the Hixson's in their new home soon.

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