More than 100 local members of the Association of the United States Army travel to Washington, D.C., next month, and they will not come home empty-handed.

The Central Texas-Fort Hood Chapter has garnered more than 20 awards, including “Best Chapter” from among 121 installations, and “Largest Chapter” with the highest number of members, and will be recognized at the AUSA Annual Meeting in October — the Army’s largest convention.

“(Fort) Bragg had a stranglehold on (largest chapter) for about three decades,” said Bill Parry, public relations chairman. “Members join AUSA because they feel there is value in the organization, not just with the national advocacy role that AUSA fulfills on Capitol Hill, but also the value the local chapter provides here at home.”

Chapters are judged on their membership numbers and activities during the club’s operations year, which begins in June.

Locally, AUSA awarded $75,000 in educational scholarships to soldiers and family members. The chapter’s corporate partners add value to the organization. Members receive a coupon book valued at $500 and good at many businesses in the Greater Killeen Area. Automax recently donated cars to the Fort Hood’s Noncommissioned Officer of the Year and to the Soldier of the Year.

Nationally, AUSA monitors the chapters worldwide based on their monthly activity reports. It then compiles the results and relies on a national awards board to review, verify and validate the selections recommended.

“Fort Hood is the first chapter to win our Vietnam Commemorative Partner Award which is new this year through the Department of Defense,” said John Davies, AUSA’s regional activities director. “The chapter demonstrates its relevance to local members by meeting the needs of soldiers and families in a myriad of ways. People want to belong to a winning team. That’s what Fort Hood is.”

The chapter will analyze ways to continue to improve on its successes and review and strengthen its weaknesses. One goal is to capture the AUSA Most Corporate Members Award.

“We have several business owners, small, medium and large, who are corporate members and are committed to supporting our soldiers. Some have been members for 40 years,” said Susan Kamas, corporate membership chairman. “We already demonstrate the value of belonging to AUSA, like our corporate luncheon with some of the Army’s top leadership as our speakers. We are going to win this award next year.”

The benefits for Fort Hood’s NCO and Soldier of the Year continue to pour in.

“Both of these soldiers will travel with the delegation to the AUSA Annual Meeting. AUSA pays for their airfare, hotel, meals and tickets to all of the events,” said AUSA Texas President Ron Taylor. “They will have the opportunity to meet with top ranking officials that make decisions for the U.S. military.”

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Herald/Wendy Sledd

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