Star Group holds annual Independence Day celebration

By PAMELA GRANT
Cove Leader-Press

Despite rainy weather, the Civic Center was packed full of people for the Star Group – Veterans Helping Veterans (SG – VHV)’s 9th Annual Independence Day Celebration.
The Star Group invited veterans, the community, and their families to enjoy free food, drinks, and plenty of entertainment. The annual celebration is held to honor all branches of the military and all those who have served.
“I’m just glad that everyone came out and that they’re having a great time. Even with the rain, so many came,” said SG – VHV President Jonathan Haywood. “I just feel great about it.”
During the event, SG – VHV honored some of those in attendance for their contributions to the community. Alither Mae Stephens, age 102, was presented with an electric wheelchair during the event in honor of her constant support of all military branches. Stephens was also made the second honorary SG – VHV member. 
Sheila Timmons, Executive Director for SG – VHV said she was really excited because Stephens was really talkative prior to the event, but after being given the wheelchair, she was moved to tears.
“I get touched when I hear about the soldiers, because we all forget. I remember growing up, it wasn’t there,” said Timmons. “Whenever I see a group of people honor the people that served and gave us our freedom, it touches me.”
During the event, the Star Group also presented Vietnam veteran David Guthrie with a 50th anniversary pin as thanks for having served in the Vietnam War.
“We come every year. We are glad to be a part of this,” said Bertha Lavalis, member of the Red Hatter Society’s group Blessed Sisters. Lavalis said that all of the members in the group have/had husbands that were Vietnam War veterans. “My husband was a veteran and he died because he had Agent Orange. It’s important for me to be a part of this in his place.”
In honor of the military, the event had a performance of “I am the Sergeant”, as well as the Texas Fallen Heroes Memorial Wall. The wall was on site so that those who attended could pay their respects to our fallen heroes who lost their lives during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“I think it was wonderful,” said Martha Turner, who attended the event. “I’m very thankful for all that the soldiers do for us, and I thank God for all of it.”
“I think this is great. This is community. This is respect. This is human nature…Veterans Helping Veterans just cannot be duplicated,” said Mayor Frank Seffrood. “Everyone in this area has their lives touched in some way by a vet.”
The SG – VHV is a non-profit 501c3 organization whose main goal is to be a voice in the community for veterans and to assist other citizens within the community. For more information about the group, visit their website at http://www.stargroup-veteranshelpingveterans.org
The event was made possible through the support of several event sponsors including Platinum Sponsors: PCSI, the City of Copperas Cove, Century 21 & JR Herring Rentals, The National United Bank, Ted Smith Law Group, Linnemann Realty, Scott’s Funeral Home, All American Chevrolet, AFGE Local 1920 & District 10, the Copperas Cove, Killeen, and Harker Heights Walmart, Sam’s Club, and PEPSI.
Gold Sponsors included Minuteman Press Killeen and Operation Phantom Support.
Silver Sponsors included Lil’ Tex Family Restaurant, Bill French Jewelers, A Cut Above, Oliver Transmission, and Central Texas College.

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