Small Texas town prepares to welcome military veterans

American GI Forum received an old school and property in Campbellton, Texas

Small Texas town prepares to welcome military veterans

CAMPBELLTON, Texas – Susie and Sam Kotara have been trying to find a way to repurpose an old Campbellton school without much success. They were determined to make sure a good property wouldn’t be wasted by the lack of an interested buyer.

“I’m not gonna see that building die; things that aren’t used fall apart,” Sam said.

So the couple set out to find an organization in need that could quickly put the building to use.

“We all have things we don’t need and are just sitting there. There’s someone else that can use it, can do something with it,” Susie said.

After connecting with Vet Strong, they were lead to donate the property and building to the American GI Forum, a nonprofit that provides housing, mental health and other services to area veterans.

Sergio Dickerson, GI Forum president and CEO, says the possibilities for the property of about three acres are endless for their organization.

“Our desire is to provide a retreat location for veterans to come and improve their condition, give them a home for the future,” he said.

But he says there’s also opportunity for the space to be used by other veteran non-profits to collaborate.

“If I provide the property free of charge to them, they provide the services and I get the biggest bang for my buck and the vets, the most important people, get all those services for free,” he said of their ability to help more veterans.

The Kotara family hopes the facility being used will also bring more people and business to a once booming town.

“I wanted to see something good happen in Campbellton. It’s an old community,” he said.

The old school was used during the oil boom in the area. Martin Llamas, a veteran and resident of the town, says he’s really excited to hear about the project.

“It makes me feel good; give the veterans something to do, including me,” Llamas said.

In his teens, he helped with the building of the building, being paid a dollar an hour for cleaning bricks being used. He says he’ll gladly welcome veterans to his town.

“Maybe I can sit at the door and greet the people, welcome them to the big city of Campbellton,” he laughed.

American GI Forum estimates they will need about $1 million for the renovation. The preparation of the building should get underway in a couple of months, with the hope of having veterans use the building by the summer.

Some donations have already started to come in.

Anyone who would like to help or donate can follow the link.


About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.