And what's worse, his home owner's insurance policy had lapsed, so he was left with next to nothing. That is, until recently, when a group of fellow veterans stepped in.
Jack Copper knows his way around a construction site.
"My sons and I built the house 25 years ago and we can do it again," he says.
What's left of the house Cooper built for his family resembles an empty shell. Everything but the memories destroyed by a fire that ripped through the new river home on July 6 of last year, right after his home owners insurance had lapsed.
"Oh man, you can't imagine," says Cooper. "After the fire, before I met Matt, my well went dry, so we had to drill a new well. "My dog died in the fire [and I lost my wife before that."
The 20-year Navy veteran was living in a trailer that is still situated outside the home. He had very little hope until Matt Augee came along.
"When we showed up here and heard about Jack's house burning down, we showed up and saw what it was like," said Augee. [He] was living in squalor in a pop up trailer [and] didn't have a working bathroom, running water or anything."
Augee is president and CEO of the RecFX Foundation, a non-profit that aims to help veterans. He teamed up with Rubicon, Blue Star Mothers and Operation Enduring Gratitude, other non-profits that do the same thing.
"The majority of houses are all veterans," says Charlie Ellis with Operation Enduring Gratitude. "My company motto is veterans serving veterans…[so] here we are."
"That's really what it's about, veterans supporting other veterans," said Desiree Gonzales with Team Rubicon.
On Valentine's Day, volunteers who are all veterans themselves started the demo process. The goal from here is to save and re-use as much as possible but supplies are needed.
"What we're hoping for and looking for here… we need companies to step up and get involved. "Contractors, vendors, suppliers, major builders… we need wood lumber donated, everything you would [need] to rebuild a house."
"I don't mind helping," says Cooper. "I'll get right in there and work [with] them; it's my house after all."
Cooper will repay the workers with elbow grease and, of course, gratitude.
The goal is to complete construction in the next two to three months, before temperatures hit the triple digits. If you'd like to help, visit www.recfx.org.