KILLEEN, Texas — Fort Hood is more than a military installation, it’s a community of individuals committed to serving in many ways.
Many have cities around Fort Hood they call home after serving in uniform there.
Meet John Valentine, U.S. Army veteran, family man and founder of Operation Phantom Support.
A man who has known the sacrifice and dedication it takes to serve in uniform his entire life.
”I was born in Great Lakes, Illinois at a Navy hospital...,” said Valentine. “My father was in the U.S. Navy. So, I grew up as a military dependent throughout my life until I was 19 and came into the Army.”
From 1990 to 2010 he proudly served his country.
First as a combat engineer before getting injured and becoming a combat medic and behavioral health specialist.
A career that took him on deployments around the world.
”Six times total. I did three tours to Bosnia and Kosovo and then I did a deployment to Kuwait right after Desert Storm. Then I deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan too,” said Valentine.
Taking the uniform off didn’t mean he was done serving. He now serves his community through a nonprofit organization he named Operation Phantom Support, serving with the same passion and dedication he had in the Army.
Something fellow veteran Tim Ferch says is a testament to the man John Valentine is.
”He’s not going to turn people down, he doesn’t. If you show that you need his help, he’s going to try to figure out how he can help you,” said Ferch. “If he can’t then it hurts him bad but, he’s going to try to find a way to help you and I've watched him do that.”
Through OPS, Valentine is able to help provide everything from food and school supplies to a list of assistance programs to help active-duty military, veterans and their families get through whatever struggles life has thrown their way.
”It’s a commitment because I am here every day,” he said. “I'm here six days a week making sure this place has enough money to run and making sure that we’re raising money...doing the things we need to do to make sure these families are taken care of. I’ve been doing this for eight years and it’s been the best eight years of my life.”
Valentine has not only helped thousands in need over the years but changed the lives of veterans like Ferch who had a message to the man he now calls his mentor.
”Even at an age where everyone says you peter out, you’re giving me the opportunity to reach out and be a better survivor, thank you,” said Ferch.
John Valentine is a U.S. Army veteran who now dedicates his life to taking care of the Fort Hood community.