ROUND ROCK — The Round Rock Express and the VLB have teamed up to help Texas veterans with a Military and Veterans Appreciation Night on June 27.
Ken Wallingford, a former POW, will throw out the first pitch in a night dedicated to letting Texas veterans know about the VLB benefits they've earned through their service to our nation.
Veterans and their families can enjoy a free night at the Dell Diamond as the Express plays the Oklahoma City RedHawks at 7pm, with 2,100 free seated tickets and hundreds of lawn tickets available. Hot dogs and sodas will cost only $1. All veterans and their families will be invited onto the field for the National Anthem.
Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, chairman of the VLB, says sponsorship of the event shows how the VLB is reaching out in new ways to spread the word to Texas veterans about what they've earned. "I want thousands of Texas veterans to come away knowing they have the best benefits in the nation and how to make use of them," Patterson said. "They've earned it."
The Texas tradition of taking care of veterans dates back to the Republic, when those who signed on to fight for independence from Mexico were rewarded with generous tracts of land. The VLB was created in 1946 after Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment authorizing $25 million in bonds to help World War II veterans buy land.
Since then, the land and home loan programs have funded more than $9 billion in loans and become popular options for veterans looking to buy the American Dream.
Wallingford has served his fellow veterans as the VLB's Veterans Liaison for 22 years.
Wallingford was one of the first two Texans to return home in February 1973 after the Paris Peace Agreement was signed. He was captured on April 5, 1972 while advising 200 South Vietnamese troops at Loc Ninh, South Vietnam. Wallingford and four other Americans came under heavy mortar and artillery fire from three divisions - more than 30,000 troops - of North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong soldiers. After two and one-half days of oppressive and massive fighting, the enemy overran his camp. Severely wounded, Wallingford was one of three survivors taken prisoner, just six days before his scheduled discharge. He spent the next 10 months imprisoned in the jungles of Cambodia in a five-foot by six-foot "tiger cage."
For additional information please call 1-800-252-VETS (8387) or visit the Texas Veterans Land Board website at www.texasveterans.com.
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