By Rose L. Thayer
Fort Hood Herald
"I know the price paid for those stars," sings Granger Smith of the American flag in his song, "That's What I Do With It."
The Texas country singer takes the freedom he said the military allows him seriously and is currently on his second 100-mile walk to Fort Hood in a soldier's boots.
The video to the song, he said, is the theme for this year's walk, which he describes as his way to say thanks to the troops.
"(I want) to raise awareness for the soldiers and get people to realize that we need to thank them because this life that we live is really cool and we need to thank them," he said.
Smith began walking on Sunday in South Austin and is asking the community to meet him in the Killeen Mall parking lot at 1 p.m. Thursday to walk the rest of the six miles to Fort Hood with him. Later that night, he will perform a free concert at the Backbone NCO Lounge.
"I'm very excited," he said of preparing for the walk. "I'm mentally prepared that we've done it before, and I know more of what to expect."
Last year, about 60 people joined him for the last leg of the walk, including several military spouses.
"I learned really quickly that spouses make as much of a sacrifice as the soldiers," said Smith. "They've sacrificed just as big, so we're doing this for both. Whether downrange or home with the family, it's just as a big a deal."
The Boot Campaign is also joining Smith again on the walk, and together they have already raised more than $10,000 to support military service members.
The Boot Campaign is a nonprofit organization that aims to show tangible appreciation to the military, raise awareness of the challenges they face upon return and support their transition home.
"The last day when everyone makes it to Fort Hood is very emotional," said Meghan McDermott, director of marketing for the Boot Campaign. "It's overwhelming for those that spent the entire week on the road."
She and the other "Boot Girls" will be on hand during the concert selling military style combat boots for $100, with 100 percent of profits going back to the campaign.
McDermott said the campaign donates funds raised to some of the various charities they partner with, which help servicemembers with everything from job placement to post-traumatic stress disorder counseling.
"One thing that we really encourage people to do is to walk a mile in a soldier's boots," said McDermott. "Lace up a pair of combat boots and walk a mile. They are really the symbol of our troops."
Whether people participate, donate to the Boot Campaign or just honk as they pass him on the road, Smith said he has only one true goal from the 100-mile walk.
"It's about raising awareness to civilians to thank a soldier for what they've done for them."
Contact Rose L. Thayer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.
If you go
The community is invited to meet Granger Smith at the Killeen Mall parking lot at 1 p.m. to walk the last six miles to post.
A concert will begin at 5 p.m. at the Backbone NCO Lounge, located inside Phantom Warrior Center, building 194 on 37th Street.