Student paints mural for Operation Stand Down

By LYNETTE SOWELL
Cove Leader-Press 

A mural now covers the rear wall of the headquarters for Operation Stand Down Central Texas, located in Cove Terrace Shopping Center. 
The mural can easily be seen upon entry to OSDCT, a nonprofit which aids homeless veterans throughout Central Texas. The split-view figure of a soldier and veteran, wearing half military clothing and half civilian clothing, stands in front a backdrop of an unfurled American flag and a dark cinderblock wall painted with the words “never forget.” 
OSDCT’s director, Joann Courtland, put the call out this spring for Copperas Cove high schoolers to submit a design for a mural, with a $500 scholarship prize to the winner. 
“With all our open wall space, I thought it would be nice to have some sort of patriotic mural put up to add dimension to our work space,” Courtland said, adding that Clarence Enochs helped her by making presentations to Copperas Cove High art classes and at Crossroads High, calling for mural design submissions. 
Courtland ended up with three design sketches from Crossroads High students and said she knew right away that she needed Damante Jones’ mural idea to be on the wall. 
“The sketch represented what we see every day in what we do, a soldier who is now a homeless veteran and the thin line between the two. It really spoke to me in a way I cannot explain. It shows that the homeless veteran still has his patriotism, a small glimmer of hope, and the struggles that they face when they end up on the street,” Courtland said. 
For 18-year-old Jones, who will graduate from Crossroads this fall and plans to study art in college, the image to him represented not forgetting veterans who come home and then leave the service.
“It’s a war vet coming back, and he gets lost in the system sometimes,” Jones said. “But I knew it was a thing, and I knew it was important, and I guess that’s why I decided to go with it.” 
There was one catch in bringing Jones’ concept to life, however. 
Jones, a new artist, was more comfortable with drawing and had never attempted anything as large as a mural, or even painted before. That’s when the Five Hills Art Guild got involved. 
The process of creating the mural then became a learning experience for Jones. With the assistance of a projector on loan from Crossroads High, Jones was able to get the mural design sketched on the wall and then he began painting last week. He had some help from Five Hills Art Guild artists, who painted with him and gave some instruction in techniques during the process. 
The finished mural can be viewed at OSDCT headquarters, located at 338 Cove Terrace Shopping Center. 

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