Former soldier lands new home

While attending a George Strait concert in January, recently discharged Fort Hood soldier Robert Fierro, and his wife Lisa, were invited on stage, where the country star presented them the keys to a mortgage-free home in Killeen.

Strait is partnering with the Military Warriors Support Foundation for his final concert tour by awarding homes to wounded warriors during every stop on his tour.

The couple moved into the home last week.

Without the stress of house payments, the Fierros said they’re looking forward to getting out of debt and planning for their children’s future.

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Sarah Rafique

Vietnam vets hold state meeting

KILLEEN — The Vietnam Veterans of America elected new state officers at its semiannual Texas State Council convention in Killeen over the weekend.

Donnie Kennedy, state vice president, said about 180 people attended the convention where 36 of the state’s 37 chapters congregated to conduct business, elect new officers and hand out awards.

“It went exceptionally well,” Kennedy said. “Because of Killeen’s central location, we had well-received attendance.”

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Natalie Stewart

VA: Disability claims reduced by 44 percent in past year

WASHINGTON — One year after the backlog of pending disability compensation claims peaked at over 611,000 in March 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs has reduced that number by approximately 44 percent to 344,000 claims, according to a statement from the VA.

Veterans are now waiting 119 days less for a decision than they were at this time last year.

“No veteran should have to wait to receive earned benefits. Through a combination of transformation initiatives and the hard work of our employees, we are making significant progress toward our goal of eliminating the claims backlog in 2015,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki.

The current backlog, defined as claims pending more than 125 days, is at its lowest point since March 2011. Veterans can learn more about disability and other veterans benefits on the joint Department of Defense/VA web portal eBenefits at

Herald wire reports

Local Marine seeking former unit members for reunion in May

From May 23-25, a special group of Marines will celebrate the 41st anniversary of the closing of the last Marine combat operating base of the Southeast Asian conflict thereby marking the final end of U.S. Marine involvement in the Vietnam war.

These are the Marines of the 1st Marine Air Wing, Task Force Delta, known as the Rose Garden Marines.

The base in Nam Phong Thailand was the very last Marine combat operating base of the Vietnam War.

The reunion will be held at the Airport Marriott in Kansas City, Mo.

For information, go to

Herald staff reports

Overseas contract workers lose pay

More than 700 Americans working overseas will be losing the living quarters allowance, known as LQA, next month. The Defense Department and Office of Personnel Management claim it was a mistake in authorization to begin with. These civilians, many of whom are veterans, work for the Army, Air Force and Navy at commands covering Africa, Asia and Europe, and are based in Germany, South Korea, Bahrain, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. The workers also must pay back the money from the allowance, and some owe more than $80,000.

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Rose L. Thayer

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