COPPERAS COVE — Veteran organizations set up stations Saturday at Star Group-Veterans Helping Veterans 10th annual Independence Day celebration at the Copperas Cove Civic Center.

It is Star Group-VHV’s mission to support veterans, their families and the citizens of the community. The picnic is one of several annual events that fulfill its mission statement. The celebration provided food, fellowship and fun.

The picnic started at 11 a.m., but doors opened at 10 a.m. Adult attendees received two free tickets for door prizes until 10:30 a.m. The door prizes were a 50-inch flat screen television, two Bar-B-Grills, a kayak, camping set, three children’s bicycles and several gift baskets. Children received a Dairy Queen coupon for a free ice cream cone.

The formal ceremony recognized fallen service members with a color guard presentation by the Copperas Cove Fire Department, a Bell of Liberty presentation, Prisoner of War-Missing in Action remembrance ceremony, and the “I am a noncommissioned officer” re-enactment.

Every year, several veterans are nominated as the “Veteran of the Year.” The 2018 winner was vice president John Robinson. He was the first Star Group-VHV member to receive the award.

After the formal ceremony, the organization opened the barbecue buffet line. The Korean Traditional Sing and Dance Group and nationally-recognized Tina Turner impersonator, Sandra “Black Diamond,” entertained the community.

“We came out to support my mother. The set up was good and very open,” said Madelaine Jaynes.

She found out about the picnic because of the dance group. Jaynes did not know it was an annual celebration.

“With the minimal advertisement, I was surprised by the attendance, but it was nice,”Jaynes said.

The civic center is located next to the city park on a residential street, but the center and park do not have a joint parking lot.

A mobile Vet Center was parked in front of the center, which let first-time attendees know they were in the right place. The Killeen Heights Vet Center and Veterans Affairs of Waco provided veteran services and resources.

“We are happy and honored to provide information and resources to veterans and their families,”said veterans outreach program specialist Lori A. Spencer.

Spencer was in charge of the mobile Vet Center. The Killeen Heights Vet Center is co-located with the Texas Veterans Commission on 302 Millers Crossing, Suite #4, Harker Heights.

The Vet Center focused on readjustment counseling. Ronnie C. Cosper, a Veterans Affairs outreach coordinator, gave out information on veteran benefits, Veterans Affairs loans and employment resources.

“A lot of people come for information. They may not talk today, but they may reach out later.” Spencer said.

Service members and their families qualify for many programs. Star Group-VHV gives the community access to organizations that can help them.

People that arrived after 1 p.m. missed the door prizes, but food was still available. Attendees gradually left between 1 and 2 p.m. The event concluded at 3 p.m.

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