With more than 22,000 hours logged over the past year supporting soldiers and their families, the Fort Hood USO thanked its volunteers with an annual luncheon Wednesday.

During the event, held at the Courtyard by Marriott in Killeen, volunteers and donors were honored for helping the USO make a difference in troops’ lives, said Robin Crouse, Fort Hood USO director.

“I’m really proud to stand here and see how many amazing people answer the call,” she said.

Frank Wright, one of the many volunteers honored, said he has logged nearly 1,400 hours since he started volunteering in January 2012.

“It’s putting a smile on your face and welcoming the soldiers and helping out any which way you can,” the retired Army veteran said.

He works at the main post location, as well as at North Fort Hood and at Robert Gray Army Airfield as troops come and go.

“I like working out at North Fort Hood, because I get to meet people from all over the country,” Wright said. “They appreciate what we’re doing out there.”

The guest speaker for the lunch was Alan Reyes, senior vice president of operations at the USO Headquarters in Arlington, Va. This week, he said the 72-year-old organization was taking time to honor its 27,000 volunteers worldwide.

“The USO is a place that brings together very special people to give back to service members,” said Reyes, who is a member of the Navy Reserve. “I express gratitude for what you do for our troops.”

Local businesses and individuals who donate to USO events, such as the free lunches offered during the week, story time for children and family game nights, also were honored.

Contact Rose L. Thayer at rthayer@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here.

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