HARKER HEIGHTS — More than 700 soldiers and family members were treated to a steak dinner Saturday thanks to various nonprofits coming together.
The USO Fort Hood, in conjunction with the Red Cross Fort Hood and the Kansas-based All-American Beef Battalion, threw a holiday party for the Warrior Transition Brigade at the Harker Heights E Center.
“I’ve walked in their shoes,” said Bill Broadie, founder of the beef battalion and a Marine during the Vietnam War.
Since it was founded in 2008, his nonprofit has served more than 190,000 troops, thanks to donations from the cattle industry and nationwide supporters.
“I could not get a bigger thrill than I get from pulling those steaks off the trucks and cooking for these kids,” Broadie said.
As soldiers waited for dinner to be served, their families could participate in crafts, face painting and other holiday festivities.
“I think they’ve done an awesome job,” said Kitsi Sterling, the spouse of Staff Sgt. Richard Sterling, who joined the brigade in July. “Even though soldiers are wounded, they are making sure they’re taken care of and shown support.”
Richard Sterling, a National Guard soldier, was wounded in Afghanistan and expects to return to service.
“It’s a good opportunity and we’re all able to come together,” he said of the brigade’s soldiers.
Because of doctor appointments and education opportunities, most soldiers are constantly coming and going, instead of bonding together as those of a traditional Army unit.
“There’s a lot of people I don’t see often, because we’re all in and out,” he said. “This is one time we can come together and just be one family.”
Lt. Col. Philip Etzkorn, brigade operations officer, agreed.
“It’s the one time a year we can do this. We couldn’t have done it without the USO,” he said.
This is the fifth year the USO hosted the holiday party, said Robin Crouse, USO Fort Hood director. “The USO is committed to wounded, ill and transitioning soldiers in the rehabilitation process. Every moment counts.”