Although longtime country star Tim McGraw lives in a sprawling Nashville mansion, he’s never forgotten what it was like to grow up poor and lack the money for necessities.
So for the past several years, McGraw has teamed up with Colorado Springs-based charity Operation Homefront to give mortgage-free homes to veterans, and last month, the singer introduced the recipients of the nonprofit’s 100th home onstage during his performance in Dallas.
The lucky recipients? The Frachiseurs of east Texas.
BJ Frachiseur served in the Army  in Iraq and Afghanistan for eight years. When he left the military, he and his wife Brooke and their two children faced a difficult situation. Their only housing option was to squeeze into a guest room at Brooke’s mom’s house because they couldn’t afford a down payment for a home of their own and didn’t qualify for a mortgage.
They applied to Operation Homefront’s Homes on the Homefront program, which provides bank-owned, renovated homes mortgage-free to needy military veterans. When there’s an available home, the nonprofit considers financial need, whether the veteran is wounded and whether the family has close ties to the community. After a family moves in and proves they can maintain the house and pay property taxes, insurance and homeowner’s association fees for two years, the home is theirs to keep.
Chase Bank owned the homes that McGraw has been awarding to military families at each of his tour stops for several years. Other banks, including Meritage, have provided other homes to the program as well.
McGraw’s connection to Operation Homefront helps raise awareness of the charity, which runs a myriad of programs besides the home-giveaways — from holiday toy drives to Thanksgiving meals for military veterans to rent-free housing for wounded veterans.
BJ Frachiseur tells Jake Whitman of NBC News that receiving the home “has taken a weight off my shoulders. I’ll go home, and I’ll say, oh, I’m going to my house. My house. Watching my kids play in the back yard and say, ‘Oh, this is my house.’ My house. Awesome.”
McGraw, whose sister, grandfather, and uncle are all veterans, tells Whitman that when he awards houses to vets, “They all —  they don’t expect it. They don’t think they deserve it. The thing I’ll try to tell them is that, ‘You deserve everything good that comes to you in life. And take this, and build a life with it.’”
MORE: This Non-Profit Puts A Debt-Free Roof Over Veterans’ Heads