By George P. Slefo
Fort Hood Herald
Bill Kozlik, president of the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce, is all too familiar with the military, war and his community.
For the last 40 years, Kozlik has been a member of the Killeen residential area and he’s seen the “good times, the bad times and the good times again.”
A former military policeman at Fort Hood, Kozlik said the fifth anniversary of the war hasn’t affected the community of Harker Heights in any negative way.
In fact, he said the war has helped the community.
“The people are here for the long run,” Kozlik said. “Our residents have placed their feet into the ground and for the most part, they’re here to stay.”
Kozlik said he knows this because of the different activities he’s seen over the last couple of years that prove the community is behind their troops.
“I think everyone in the Central Texas area supports their troops,” he said. “Just look at all of the soldiers’ wives and civilians that show up to support the troops at events like our yellow ribbon campaign. There’s troops (being deployed to Iraq) several times throughout their stay at Fort Hood. It’s bridged the gap more and brought us together.”
And while Kozlik said he would like to see the troops come home, he doesn’t feel the war should be put to an end until the job is done.
“We’re in this for the long haul,” Kozlik said. “I’m not a foreign diplomat; I’ll leave those decisions for appropriate elected officials. I just think we need to learn more information.”
He said while soldiers are getting wounded overseas, it’s a risk they signed up for and a responsibility they’ve taken on.
“My heart goes out to the soldiers and their families,” he said. “You have to respect what they do. ... When you see ceremonies with soldiers getting the Purple Heart, the spectators don’t have sympathy — they want to see their soldiers finish the job.”
Kozlik was born in New York City and later moved to upstate New York. He enlisted in the Army and came to Fort Hood with his girlfriend, who then became his wife.
“I can’t stress to anyone how important Fort Hood is to Harker Heights,” Kozlik said. “It brings jobs, government contracts and bring the community together. Our community is brought to service the people and (its) soldiers.”
Contact George P. Slefo at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7469