2nd Annual Camp Cowboy Christmas Ball raises funds
By NICOLE METTS
On Saturday night the Camp Cowboy Christmas Ball was held at the VFW Post 8577 in Copperas Cove.
The event was held to raise money for Camp Cowboy, which is a 501c3 non-profit organization, to support their efforts to help veterans and their families.
This season’s graduates were recognized, two belt buckle awards were given out and an award for their photographer. There was a special award given, the first ever Roy P. Benavidez award given to recognize Geoffrey Harriman for his dedication in helping veterans.
This award was presented to Harriman by Benavidez’s daughter Yvette Benavidez Garcia, who drove from San Antonio. She also brought a book she wrote about her father’s life called Tango Mike Mike. Master Sergeant Benavidez was given the medal of honor on February 24th, 1981 by President Ronald Reagan. Reagan’s remarks and a speech from the late Benavidez was played during the event.
Camp Cowboy has been going strong for three years, with three classes a year and a summer class for kids at Robison Ranch, located at 2700 Sikes Dr in Kempner.
Scott Robison spent 23 years active duty as a special forces officer and his wife, Jennifer, is still an active duty colonel as the chief nurse at Darnall Hospital. The couple donate the ranch and help run Camp Cowboy.
The idea came originally from a friend of theirs by the name of Scott Sjule who had been bringing soldiers there for years. Robison and Sjule, along with four-time Purple Heart recipient Tony Cole sat down together and created a curriculum, and that is how Camp Cowboy was formed. They also had help from Larry Mayhem who donated some courses. Cole was given the role of being the director of Camp Cowboy.
Fort Hood’s chaplain for the 120th, Russ Hill, was one of the celebrating graduates. Even though he is active duty, the camp set up alternative training times to work with him as well as for any other active military.
“Scott Robison is doing some amazing work and Tony Cole right behind him,” said Hill. “Veterans often leave the military with invisible wounds, especially those they experience from GWAT (global war on terror). This equine therapy is a very effective tool. You develop a relationship that is not based on words. It’s based on something more than that. I’ll call it a sixth sense. It is eminently and innately spiritual. It’s a God thing. It’s an amazing healing thing they are doing here. I will continue my ministry to veterans through this program right here.”
Graduate Tim Coakley said, “I had a young stud horse I was training. It taught me a lot of patience-you’re on the horse’s time not yours.”
Coakley also said, “I don’t know how to describe it but there was a change after the program. I know one thing, it kinda puts things into perspective and brings you down to earth.”
Disabled veteran Natasha Harris said, “It was a nice experience to be able to go and be with other veterans. It was also a place I could bring my kids.”
The event included a raffle, a dinner provided by Bush’s Chicken and after the awards, ended the night with a dance. The night raised $2,900 for the cause. Camp Cowboy can be found at www.campcowboy.org, Facebook or reached at 254-292-1200.