Diane Grasham has seen single soldiers leave Fort Hood and come back married with children. After more than four decades working for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, she’s ready to say goodbye to the families she’s served.
“I’ve got time to get used to the idea of it,” said Grasham, store manager for the AAFES Express on Clear Creek Road in Killeen. She is retiring in July.
Grasham began her AAFES career in 1970 at the Express’ Picnic Palace Shoppette. Starting as a cashier checker, she slowly made her way up the ladder to general clerk, supervisor and finally manager. She’s been managing the store at Clear Creek Road for three years and said customer service is important.
Steven Blaisdell, a warehouse worker at the store, was an employee with Grasham 20 years ago and returned to work with her again about a month ago.
“Ms. G’s always been a fair individual, always a go-getter and she takes care of her employees,” he said. “We knew each other way back when. It’s just like old times. It’s great.”
Grasham said she’ll miss interacting with the many new and familiar faces she’s seen during her 43 years with AAFES.
“We have challenges every day because you meet people from all different walks of life and the different cultural backgrounds,” she said. “Sometimes when you meet some of these single soldiers, they’re so young, just out of high school and you just feel like they’re your children.”
But, most of all, Grasham will miss taking care of soldiers and their families.
“We try to take care of all of them,” she said, adding they’ve hired many soldiers’ spouses or children. “It really makes you feel good when you provide service for the soldiers and their families because they give so much to us and we want to give back to them.”
When she retires, Grasham wants to travel and spend time with her grandchildren, but will always miss the people she’s worked with throughout her decades-long career with AAFES.
“I’ve worked with so many people,” she said. “Every assignment you get new people, but it’s like a family and that’s what I’m going to miss.”