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A volunteer helps a homeless person pick out some new shoes during the Operation Stand Down-Central Texas Fall Stand Down event Saturday at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.

Even when walking around with a cane due to bone spurs in her thigh, there is no denying that Joann Courtland, the director of Operation Stand Down Central Texas, is dedicated to helping people out. While showing the Herald around the Fall Stand Down for Homeless and in her interview Saturday, Courtland was still directing vendors and volunteers over to their stations and getting things ready as the line of people was building outside the Killeen Civic Center.

Operation Stand Down Central Texas is part of the larger Operation Stand Down organization, which began in 1988 and has been dedicated to helping out homeless veterans ever since.

“When people hear the word ‘veteran,’ they think of someone who is retired from the military ,but that’s not usually the case. We’re talking about the people who were let go from the military after two or 15 years and was never even given any kind of retirement or benefits. We’ve actually had people come in and sign up for their (Veterans Affairs) benefits for the first time ever,” said Courtland, an Army veteran.

Volunteers range from veterans, students, church groups and regular people who just want to give a helping hand.

Professor Leyla Orduzheva of Texas A&M University Central Texas also had her class out at the event to provide a helping hand and learn more about how organizations like Operation Stand Down operate.

“All of my students here are part of my business ethics course, so taking them out to an event like this is the perfect opportunity to learn about ethical frameworks,” said Orduzheva.

The event also provided the homeless with medical triages. These triages ranged from oral health screenings, STD and HIV testing, COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. The National Guard provided the COVID testing and vaccinations; Dental Command (Dentac) of Fort Hood provided the oral health screenings along with pamphlets on where to go if someone needed further care; and Operation Stand Down provided help with the STD and HIV testing.

“We do wish we could a lot more for these men and women, but we do provide them with information on clinics where they can go in order for more help,” said John Kreider, a dentist with Dentac.

Vendors at the event included Habitats for Humanity, Heritage House, Help Heal Veterans, the Psi Delta Tau fraternity, Bring Everyone in the Zone and Forgotten Soldiers Motorcycle Club. Vendors were there to help provide medical assistance, financial counseling and aid.

“As you can see, a lot of these organizations out here today just want to help out with the community and help these people get back on their feet,” said Courtland, when speaking about the vendors at the event.

Food, new clothes, backpacks and even free haircuts were provided at the event. Those who would like to help out can donate directly to OSDCT at their website, www.osdct.org, or can also apply to be a volunteer as well.

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