If there’s one thing we do right — and big — here in the Hill Country is supporting others, especially when it comes to our veterans.
During the day, residents turned out to show their support at the Veterans Day Parade and car show at the Kerrville VA Medical Center. And that night, a packed house turned out at the Hill Country Youth Events Center to enjoy the first-ever Hill Country Gala to benefit wounded warriors living in our community.
The gala was truly an inspiring event that saw thousands of dollars raised for the Wounded Warrior Project.
People from all over the Hill Country turned out for the night to celebrate the works of the Wounded Warriors Project, a nonprofit that aims to make life better for current and former servicemembers who have incurred a physical or mental injury, illnesses, or wound related to their service. It’s work that must be supplemented through our charitable contributions and focused toward ensuring that every member of our Armed Forces comes home to feel supported.
This effort was through a lot of heavy lifting by Hill Country Gala, Inc. founders Ward and Sherri Jones and the nonprofit board they began assembling more than a year ago. Their effort moved the gala forward to an outstanding conclusion on Saturday night. The event was endorsed by U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sent a letter of support.
Schreiner University stepped up and provided $10,000 in support, while Walmart donated more than $5,000. The Kerrville Daily Times also was a proud sponsor of the event, along with Jam Radio, which was also a gold-level sponsor.
The night proved to be a lot of fun as well, but never lost sight of its mission. Throughout the evening, videos were played about the impact Wounded Warriors had on returning servicemembers and how the positive interaction not only helped with physical recovery, but sometimes more importantly, mental health recovery.
A study by the Department of Defense found that 2018 was the worst-ever for suicides among active-duty military personnel,with 325 people taking their lives. For reservists, the challenge was just as great, with more than 200 committing suicide in 2018.
For veterans, the number of suicides is staggering, and shows no signs of slowing down. It’s a heartbreaking reality and one uniquely felt here in Texas. In 2017, 496 Texas veterans killed themselves. The only good news is that number was down from 2016.
We salute all of those who took time out of their weekend to attend the gala. It’s programs like what we saw on Saturday that can make a big difference, but we have a long way to go. We’re hoping that next year’s gala is even bigger, and we will be ready to help.