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Harker Heights Evening Star
Harker Heights Evening Star

Local nonprofit aids homeless veterans

By PAMELA GRANT

Cove Leader-Press

Members of the armed forces do so much for our country, and, on Saturday, Operation Stand Down Central Texas (OSDCT) sought to do their part to give back to homeless veterans.

CCLP/PAMELA GRANT
Operation Stand Down Central Texas offered a free hot meal and more to help homeless veterans at the National Guard Armory in Killeen on Saturday.

OSDCT gathered in the National Guard Armory in Killeen from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. with the goal of helping homeless veterans get some support, food, and services. The event was open to non-veterans as well. The event provided veterans with a hot meal, medical and dental screenings, a haircut, donated clothing, and other donated items including cots.

Joann Courtland, the Director of OSDCT, started the organization in her Copperas Cove garage. She was inspired after seeing a similar event in Alabama.

“I was so moved,” said Courtland. “I knew it was something I had to do here…People need help, veteran or not.”

OSDCT seeks to create an environment to provide basic necessities in a safe and relaxed atmosphere. They hold events in Apr and Oct of each year. The event was the group’s 5th event of its kind. The last event helped 55 people. This year’s event had already matched that number by noon.

Several groups volunteered their services and offered information to attendees of the Stand Down event. They offered information on housing services, counselling, various veteran groups, and more.

“When they explained about this project, it hit our hearts,” said Lisa Perata, the Executive Director for Killeen Housing Authority. “We feed a lot of homeless vets on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and most Saturdays…We wanted to be here for those who don’t know about our program…They’ve served, and we want to give back and serve them.”

“The soldiers do everything for us. They’re very special to us. They risk their lives to protect our country,” said Lindsay Williams, who attended the event. “It’s a blessing what they do for us, so why can’t we turn around and do something nice for them.”

During the event, they also sought to give special recognition to those who served in the Vietnam War. Robert W. Anderson was one of those who was recognized and he was awarded with a 50th commemoration pin, a proclamation signed by 44th US President Obama, and a certificate thanking him for his service.

Marty Martinez, member of the area’s Vietnam 50th Commemoration Committee and Vietnam veteran himself, said that the group was formed to make sure everyone in the area who served in that time will be recognized for it. He said when the Vietnam veterans returned, in many cases they were treated very badly. Some could not even wear their uniforms in the airports due to potential negative reactions. Martinez said it is important to make sure that things like that never happen again to any other soldiers.

“To me, it’s very heartwarming that veterans are being recognized now,” said Martinez

Anyone who wants more information about the group or who wants to donate to the group can do so at www.osdct.org.

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