BAILEYTON, Tenn (WJHL) — Jeff Weems says his decision at age 20 to join the U.S. Army was a defining moment in his life.

“It’s something I’m very proud of,” he said. “Proud for what this country stand for.”

Weems saw a lot during his time in service to the country. He was stationed in Germany and saw the Wall come down in Berlin.

“Being young and dumb, I didn’t understand what it meant at that point,” he said. “Looking back now, I understand it more.”

Just a few weeks after leaving Germany, he was in Saudi Arabia deployed in Operation Desert Storm.

“I’ve worn a uniform since I got out of high school in some shape, form or fashion,” Weems said. (Photo: Jeff Weems)

Since he left the military, Weems has devoted his life to service, first as a firefighter and now as an EMT.

“I’ve worn a uniform since I got out of high school in some shape, form or fashion,” Weems said.

Now, he’s on a new mission. He’s working with others in the community to build a monument to honor veterans in his hometown of Baileyton, Tennessee.

“It’s something I’ve thought about, and I wanted to go at it,” he said. “I’m trying to pour my heart into it.”

Town leaders offered a spot in the Baileyton Walking Park on Horton Highway for the veterans monument.

Donations have already been coming in. The public can buy pavers engraved with the name of a veteran as a lasting tribute for their service.

“It’s for all veterans, living and dead,” he said. “People will be able to pull up in their vehicle and, if they’re older, to enjoy it without even getting out of the car.”

Construction on the monument in Baileyton is underway. Weems hopes the upcoming fundraiser will help finish the project. (Photo Jeff Weems)

Weems says they’ve broken ground on the project and hope to raise the remaining funds at a community fundraiser event on Friday, July 15 from 6:30-10:30 p.m.

People can enjoy live music and food at the Baileyton Walking Park on Horton Highway where the monument will be built.

There’s an account where people can make donations to the Baileyton Park Veterans Memorial Project at Apex Bank locations in Greene County.