The Chamber of Commerce Gallop or Trot 5k run, sponsored by H-E-B Copperas Cove, was in full swing outside the Cove Civic Center on Saturday as curious residents began to arrive to see what the Star Group-Veterans Helping Veterans second annual health fair was all about.

Inside the civic center, 21 health and wellness vendors from across Central Texas were on hand, with personnel from Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, the Department of Veterans Affairs, Texas Veterans Commission, Cove Hope Pregnancy Center, Coryell and Bell County public health and even an optometrist and a masseuse participating in the event, which was primarily sponsored by Harker Heights Medical Clinic owner and SG-VHV member Dr. Sean Burgest.

“The goal is to increase health literacy,” Burgest said. “A big part of health outcomes is awareness, so programs like this enable us (as physicians) to talk to patients in a nonthreatening environment. In a medical office, you’re not going to talk because you’re not relaxed — you don’t want to be there.”

All services, whether it was getting a massage, eye exam or just getting information was free, he said. A number of veterans organizations, including Tricare Dental, participated due to the high number of veterans in the community. Vendors were not required to pay to participate.

“We provide services to Bell County and to Coryell County as well,” said Rose Torres, a registered nurse and Bell County Public Health District site leader. “We have services from immunizations, pregnancy testing, (sexually transmitted disease) testing to family planning. If you can’t find services with us, you won’t be able to find it.”

The event was planned to run in conjunction with Gallop or Trot in order to give the race participants a chance to see what various medical help was available and to get answers to questions they might have, SG-VHV President Jonathan Haywood said.

The event was open to anyone who wanted information, with a special emphasis on those without medical coverage who may have needed a checkup or guidance about any medical issues they may have.

“The vendors here have been absolutely amazing in donating their time to come out and provide their services to anyone who needs it, and all of them have said they’ll be back again next year,” Haywood said. “I can’t thank them enough for what they do. Next year, we hope to have even more vendors participating so we can continue to make this a bigger and better event every time.” | 254-501-7554

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