Soldiers are taught to look out for their brothers and sisters in arms at all times and in every way, even after retirement. On Saturday, members from the Star Group-Veterans Helping Veterans and the Military Order of the Cooties proudly raised money for their veteran services by scrubbing, rinsing and drying vehicles at separate car washes.

“We take care of our veterans and visit them in the VA hospital,” said Jonathan Haywood, president of Star Group-Veterans Helping Veterans and a 24-year Army veteran. “Throughout the year, we give people assistance with paying bills, finding shelter if they’re homeless, and so much more.”

While the Star Group’s car wash at the Lockaway Storage in Killeen was a first for the group, the Military Order of the Cootie has held two car washes per year for the last eight years. Saturday’s was at the Bru Thru in Copperas Cove.

“I always like to reach out to help veterans every chance I get,” said Rick Vinson, a retired Army veteran, nodding his approval as he watched his car made spic-and-span by the Star Group.

“When I go to the VA hospital and see people who are less fortunate than I am, then I get a good feeling giving back to the veterans who have served our country,” said Don Taylor, seam squirrel commander of the Cootie and a 22-year Army veteran.

In addition to visiting vets at the Temple VA hospital monthly to provide companionship and play bingo, the group donates food, clothing and personal hygiene items to veterans.

By midmorning, 14 Star Group members had washed 10 vehicles, including a new car. The Cootie vets scrubbed 20 vehicles by noon.

Maria Vasquez removed boxes from her Lockaway Storage unit and instantly decided to get her truck washed when she learned her donation would benefit veterans.

“I don’t think we can ever do enough for our veterans,” said Vasquez, a longtime Killeen resident.

Waving a large sign at passing cars trying to get them to stop at the Bru Thru, Victoria Duchateau, the wife and daughter of veterans, spoke of her commitment to the cause.

“We tend to forget our veterans, especially the ones who are in the hospital, and this is the way we can show our support,” said Duchateau, a 23-year member of the Ladies Auxiliary Military Order of the Cootie.

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