KILLEEN — Hundreds of active-duty service members and their family members were given vital information regarding their many military benefits at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center on Saturday during a veterans benefits fair hosted by the Texas Veterans Land Board.
Former Marine and Temple resident Michael D. Warner, 58, said events like these have helped to make thousands of active or former military service members more aware of the benefits they can take advantage of.
“This fair offers a lot of the things I need, whether it’s health care or home loans. This event is a one-stop shop to find all the benefits a veteran needs,” Warner said.
The event featured more than 70 vendors that offer special benefits for military-connected families and service members.
The fair was spearheaded by Richard Colon and Jim Bob Mickler.
Colon, who serves as the outreach coordinator for the VLB in the Fort Hood area, said the event is geared toward any veteran interested in finding out what they qualify for.
“Our hope for this event is that when people leave here they have a better understanding of what’s being offered to them, and that we (VLB) answer any questions they have regarding their military benefits,” Colon said.
Mickler, who serves as the deputy director of marketing for VLB, said he was overwhelmingly pleased with the turnout of veterans in Killeen.
“We have been doing these kinds of events for 11 years, but nothing this big. Facebook was a big part of us getting the word out about this event as well. About 70 percent of all the people here said they heard about it through Facebook,” Mickler said.
John Paylor of the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery, which is run by the VLB, was also present at the fair. Paylor said the fair is a great way to create awareness of all the great things offered to military members and veterans.
“I don’t believe most veterans are aware of all the benefits available to them. There are a lot of people that have come in today and don’t realize all the great things out there for them to take advantage of,” Paylor said.
Paylor also said the veterans cemetery in Killeen provides free funeral and burial services for veterans and their families.
The Veterans Land Board has five upcoming benefits fairs around the state. The fair will return to Central Texas on July 15, when it will be at the Waco Veterans Affairs hospital, 4800 Memorial Drive, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
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