COPPERAS COVE — After many years, Jeannie Drayton has a bit of peace.

Her husband, Jimmy Drayton, served in the Vietnam War. When he returned home after serving in Southeast Asia, the anti-war sentiment in the States caused him to be on the receiving end of hostile feedback, Jeannie recalled.

Jimmy served a total of 22 years in the Army, retiring as a master sergeant, then spent another 20 working for the government. He went to Iraq three times, Jeannie said, and was injured during his last assignment in the Middle East.

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

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

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

Jonathan Haywood, Star Group VHV’s 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 Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.

The veterans honored were:

John A. Linnemann, retired, Marine 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, Army veteran, sergeant 1st class

Johnny White, retired Army sergeant 1st class

Paulette White, Army veteran, 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 citizens of our 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. 4th Street. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.

More information about Star Group-Veterans Helping Veterans is available at | 254-501-7568

254-501-7568 |

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