Veterans One Stop volunteers say they gain a lot by giving back

WACO, Texas (KWTX) You make a living by what you get.

Photo by Neal Klaeser

You make a life by what you give.

Volunteers at the Veterans One Stop say the rewards of serving are priceless and there is a whole universe of ways to help.

You'll recognize 12 year Marine veteran Rolando Hernandez and his wife Rachel if you spend any time at the Veterans One Stop in Waco.

"We help out with the breakfasts, once a month the Marine Corps League helps out," he said.

They also work through the Marine Corps League to keep the food pantry stocked.

"We have been here on days when people get stuff out of the pantry, and the relief on their face when they get a bag of something and they're leaving, and when they got here they were kind of sad, to me that's kind of priceless," Mr. Hernandez said.

Rolando and Rachel get joy out of giving back, but they also have a daughter in the Navy and a son in the Marine Corps and truly know the value these services have to veteran families.

"It's like giving back to the community still, for the future, but also for our children when they get out, so they have these programs available for them also," Mrs. Hernandez said.

Veterans One Stop director DeLisa Russell is also the coordinator for the Military Veteran Peer Network for Central Texas.

And the One Stop hosts training sessions for the network four times a quarter.

"We cover things like active listening, military culture, ethics, stress management, PTSD, and different things about how to be a peer support specialist," said volunteer John Knue.

Knue leads training sessions.

He says all it takes to volunteer is a heart to serve and there are opportunities at the One Stop and beyond.

Knue said, "many of them work offsite with other veterans activities because the training is not specific to the Veterans One Stop but support within the entire network area."

Volunteer Tom Smith told us, "we generally come here together, I guess our whole married life we've done things together."

Mr. Smith and his wife Marilyn have been together nearly 56 years.

Every Thursday, the Navy veterans help keep stock of items in the clothes and food pantries through spread sheets.

And they'll do whatever they're asked.

They say if you're looking for a way to give back as a couple or an individual, there's one stop you need to make.

Mr. Smith said, "come on down and the Lord will repay you greatly."