When Jimmy Drayton returned home from Vietnam years ago, he received a lot of hostile feedback, according to his wife, Jeannie.

Jimmy Drayton served 22 years in the Army, retiring as a master dergeant, then spent another two decades working for the government. He went to Iraq three times, Jeannie Drayton said, and was injured during his last assignment in the Middle East.

Jimmy Drayton died in 2006. After 10 years of struggling to get the benefits due to her and her children, Jeannie Drayton turned to Star Group-Veterans Helping Veterans.

“Without them, we would never have gotten our benefits,” she said.

On Saturday, during the Star Group-VHV’s monthly meeting, Jeannie Drayton and her son, Jimel, received a long overdue honor.

Jonathan Haywood, the Star Group-VHV president, presented the pair with a certificate and pin.

“We want to make sure that we recognize our families,” Haywood said before reading from the certificate, “Our nation is forever indebted to you.”

The Draytons weren’t the only honorees during the meeting. Ten other Vietnam veterans received certificates, commemorative pins, special coins and bumper stickers as part of their long-delayed welcome home.

Everyone else in the packed room stood and applauded, thanking the veterans for their service.

“It is a privilege to present you with this symbol of thanks and to honor your service and valiant sacrifice,” read Haywood from the certificates signed by former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.

The veterans honored were:

  • John A. Linnemann, retired, Marine Corps lieutenant colonel.
  • Gainwell White, retired Army staff sergeant.
  • Vance Winslow, retired chief warrant officer.
  • Edward L. Brown Sr., retired Army staff sergeant.
  • Robert Golding, retired Army staff sergeant.
  • Jim McMurray, former Army sergeant first class
  • Johnny White, retired Army sergeant first class.
  • Paulette White, former Army specialist.
  • Adam C. Butler, retired Army staff sergeant.
  • James Freeman, retired Army staff sergeant.

Star Group-Veterans Helping Veterans works to support veterans, their families and residents of the communities; to be a voice in the community to raise awareness for veterans’ challenges, including homelessness.

The organization has offices at the former Copperas Cove police station, 202 S. Fourth St. The office is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

For information, go to www.stargroup-veteranshelpingveterans.org.

254-501-7568 | jferraro@kdhnews.com

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