About 30 families representing Division West joined members of the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce and its Military Affairs Committee for an evening of food and camaraderie on April 18.

The chamber hosts at least eight dinner events every year to support troops stationed at Fort Hood, said Betty Price, chamber president.

“The importance of this is to meet our Fort Hood neighbors,” she said. “We do a dinner in which we match a host and a guest.”

The dinner allowed participants to build new friendships while learning what the community has to offer.

“We let them know we think about them and support them in all the ways we can,” said Dennis Webster, committee chairman who retired from the military 11 years ago. “I started coming out as a guest when I served in the military and one of the reasons I chose to retire in Copperas Cove was to be a part of this committee that shows the support of the local community to the soldiers.”

Division West is about 5,000 troops strong at Fort Hood, said Maj. Gen. Warren Phipps Jr., commander.

“I’ve lived all over the Army and no one matches the patriotism and support for the community of soldiers and families,” he said. “I remember my first assignment here, and Copperas Cove has grown tremendously in 24 years, but the spirit and support of the families has not changed and it’s timeless.”

Phipps, who assumed command in January, and Sgt. Maj. Ronald Orosz of Division West were presented gifts from the community, including a commemorative key to the city and a belt buckle.

Joe Burns, Copperas Cove school district superintendent, gave Phipps and Orosz hats and named them honorary Bulldawgs.

Participants said they were pleased to be a part of the community event that allowed them to network with each other.

“We are a longtime Fort Hood resident and this is my fourth time coming to this event,” said 166th Aviation Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Glen Vela. “I truly believe we walk away with the feeling of support and camaraderie.”

Linda Wilson, military affairs committee member, said the dinner brings the community and Fort Hood together and lets the soldiers know they are not alone in their efforts to protect the nation.

“We let them know that when they are deployed that their families will be taken care of.”

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