American flags fly at city buildings and every Copperas Cove school and dot houses throughout neighborhoods.
Cove is a military community flanking Fort Hood and its citizen population is heavily military veterans, retirees, and active-duty service members. Fittingly, Copperas Cove’s sitting council members and mayor have collectively more than 200 years of military experience. They said it affects the decisions they make, which in turn affect Cove citizens.
MAYOR JOHN HULL
Although Hull did not serve in the military, he did work side-by-side with soldiers for 28 years as an Army photographer in civil service.
“It helped me understand the workings of the Army. My work gave me an idea of what goes on even though I was never actually in the Army,” Hull said. “I have been ‘boots up’ with the military since 1941. I am one of the few left that had to be moved off when they turned the land into the Hood post.”
CHERYL MEREDITH, PLACE 1
Cheryl Meredith grew up as a military child and her husband retired from the Army after 20 years.
“I see traffic of people moving in and out from all different countries. (Military experience) really helps me so I can talk to people, other wives, who are moving into a new area,” she said. “I am more apt to look and see all sides of a situation. Like with the Fort Hood land swaps, I work to ensure that decisions benefit Cove, too, not just the military.”
GARY KENT, PLACE 2
Gary Kent served 24 years in the U.S. Army and retired as a first sergeant.
“The military helped me with accountability, being accountable and coming to meetings and responding to the citizens of Cove,” he said. “Through the military, I learned to do more with less at times due to budget constraints and that nature. But that has helped me when citizens voice the need for a project because I am then figuring out ways to pay for it with less funds.”
MARK PETERSON, PLACE 3
Mark Peterson retired from the U.S. Army as a command sergeant major with 24 years of service.
“My military service focuses back to work ethic,” he said. “I do my homework, research, and keep the best interest of people at heart. It helps me to reflect on personnel issues and how to manage and maintain relationships so more people are willing to come and talk. If you’re military, you can still vote in local elections without changing residences. I try to share that information.”
MARTY SMITH, PLACE 4
Marty Smith’s husband was active-duty military for 32 years.
“The military caused me to be independent, budget-minded, and made me a better person to talk with all kinds of people and businesses and anyone coming into the city,” she said. “It also caused me to be urgent and take care of items immediately — a call to action. It helped me with decision-making as the leader of spouse groups. That made me a good leader and good listener which help me listen to Cove citizens. For me especially, being involved in Fort Hood for a very long time, I am able to work with commanders and people in charge.”
KENN SMITH, PLACE 5
Kenn Smith joined the Texas National Guard when he was 15. He served four years in the Navy and later enlisted in the Air Force, retiring as a master sergeant with 21 years of service.
“As an NCO in any branch of service, you develop organizational skills,” Kenn Smith said. “Background in the military, whether as a commissioned or noncommissioned officer prepares you for what you run into at the city council. You have to compromise and realize that you don’t always get your way. You have to negotiate and work through things. I learned that as an NCO and it’s a carry-over on the council.”
JIM SCHMITZ, PLACE 6
Jim Schmitz spent 20 years in the Army, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.
“Just the decision-making process the military goes through helps you study issues and analyze issues to prepare you for decisions on the council,” said Schmitz, citing examples such as the Fort Hood land swaps. “Just mobility transfers with families and what they are going through during the process is something I understand.”
Schmitz served on the Cove council from 1984-1990 and served as mayor from 1990-1994.
FRANK SEFFROOD, PLACE 7
Frank Seffrood retired after 22½ years with the Army.
“Military experience helped develop a sense of responsibility and teamwork,” he said. “With preparation for the city council, you rely on openness of people around you and you are more open. I understand the relationship that deals with different levels of command. I understand the pressure and expectations of the military that the civilian population does not have.”
Contact Wendy Sledd at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7476