TEMPLE — Lorraine Dugger knew she was going to be recognized for the more than 17,500 volunteer hours she had accumulated over the past 40 years volunteering at the Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Medical Center in Temple.

What she didn’t know, because it wasn’t in the program, was that she would go home with the Executive Leadership Award at Thursday’s Central Texas Veterans Health Care System volunteer recognition ceremony.

After serving on numerous committees and volunteering in just about every position at the Temple VA, Dugger decided to retire.

“She’s been involved in the student scholarship program, student fundraisers and the Christmas gift shop,” said Bobby Zimmerman, chief of voluntary services for Central Texas Veterans Health Care Systems. “You name it, she’s been there.”

Dugger, of Killeen, served on the Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service committee for 14 years, some of that time as chairwoman, Zimmerman said. VAVS is made up of about 20 different service organizations.

“I enjoyed that because we got things done for the veterans,” she said of her time on VAVS.

She’s witnessed the growth of the Temple VA over the decades.

“It’s gotten a lot bigger and the parking has gotten worse every year,” Dugger said.

Dugger’s husband, Earl, served in the Marine Corps.

“It’s time to quit,” Dugger said. “Now I’m going to take cruises, the first one is to the Cayman Islands.”

Russell Lloyd, acting director of the Central Texas Veterans Health Care Systems, stood in for Director Sallie Houser-Hanfelder, who is in Arlington serving as acting network director for a couple of weeks, in welcoming the volunteers to the event at the Frank W. Mayborn Civic and Convention Center.

“You, our volunteers, have volunteered about 109,000 hours in the last year serving our veterans,” Lloyd said.

That number equals 54 full-time employees.

Volunteers provide services to the VA veterans the hospital can’t provide, Lloyd said.

“You bring energy and a passion for what you do to our organization,” he said. “You have also helped bring in over $419,071 in cash and in-kind donations.”

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