HARKER HEIGHTS (September 28, 2013) - Hundreds of military veterans and their families showed up to the 5th Annual Welcome Home Celebration at Carl Levin Park in Harker Heights Saturday evening.
The Central Texas Veterans Health Care System hosted the event to recognize the service of each soldier, and to help others transition to a civilian lifestyle.
Participants were treated to free food and entertainment.
The event was a surprise for many like Brig. Gen. Clark Lemasters, commander of the Fort Hood 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command.
"I've been in the Army 28 years, and this is the first time I've been in an area that's had things like this," he said.
Lemasters along with city leaders gave brief remarks during the ceremony.
He pointed out that over the last five years one million veterans had transitioned out of service.
He said three million more are anticipated to transition out in the next 10 years.
The large number has the community working to ensure the transition is smooth for the troops.
"What we are trying to let the soldier and the veteran know is what benefits are available to them," said Bobby Zimmerman, chief of voluntary service.
Zimmerman is a six year Navy veteran who understands the struggles veterans go through to obtain benefits.
Attendees were also greeted by potential employers and colleges, as well as vendors who shared information about VA health program.
"I think its a wonderful thing especially when you get the community involved," Zimmerman said.
"The soldier knows that the community is here for them."