Homeless veteran who was kicked out of restaurant turning life around


Four months ago, Roger Hornsby was sleeping on the streets.

He struggled to walk. His ailing leg went untreated and he needed a cane and a wheelchair to get around.

Today, Hornsby said he can hardly believe his good fortune.

“I got clothes here, a shower, all that,” he said. “I got a bed, a room.”

Earlier this year, the 61-year-old combat veteran was kicked out of a Waffle House restaurant. His belongings were thrown away by restaurant employees.

Nashville musician Jesse Brand had invited Hornsby to dinner and witnessed the entire scene.

Brand shared the story with Channel 4 to stand up for his new friend and hold the restaurant employees accountable.

“Within 30 to 40 seconds, the gal said, ‘You two can stay. He’s got to leave,’” Brand said. “She said, ‘His shirt’s dirty. He can’t be in here.’"

Waffle House officials later investigated the incident. They said Hornsby had threatened associates and customers with a cane, and was asked to leave.

Hornsby said if it wasn’t for the help he received after Channel 4’s story aired in August, he would never have known his new life was even possible.

“They’ve set me up with an apartment and all that, fully furnished and all that,” he said. “I just want to get out there working again.”

Sonya Johnson is Hornsby’s case worker and the director of social services at Matthew 25, a Nashville ministry for homeless men.

“He’s doing extraordinarily well,” Johnson said. “I’ve seen Mr. Hornsby go from a one probably to about a 10.”

Johnson said everyone at the ministry loves Hornsby.

“We do it to help individuals change their lives, save their money, get on a budget and spending plan, and attend meetings that actually help them,” she said.

Funded by a grant through Veterans Affairs, Matthew 25 provides shelter and teaches life skills to nearly 250 homeless men, half of which are U.S. veterans, many battling addiction.

Johnson said Hornsby is a star client.

“Being on the streets tends to make me want to take a drink,” Hornsby said. “I ain’t drank nothing since I’ve been here. I feel better than I have in I don’t know how many years.”

Hornsby has saved every penny he can and will be moving into a fully furnished apartment for veterans called Patriots Place as soon as it’s ready.

He said his first purchase will be a computer.

“I don’t know how to use a computer. I’m going to learn that,” he said.

With the medical help Hornsby has received through Matthew 25, Hornsby no longer needs a wheelchair to get around. He only uses a cane for balance when he walks downhill.

Hornsby said he wants Brand to know one thing.

“That I’m doing great. I’m doing better than I have in years,” he said.

He also wants other veterans to know there’s help for them and a second chance is worth fighting for.

“I just want to stop drinking so I can do right,” Hornsby said.

Matthew 25 is open to all veterans. For more information, click here.

Brand told Channel 4 he was thrilled to hear of Hornsby’s success. He said the benefit he created, called Warm Up Nashville, was also a big hit and collected coats, socks, blankets and sleeping bags for the homeless in Nashville.

Copyright 2015 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.



Tracy Kornet is an award-winning anchor, host and writer. She joined News4 in September 2014.

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