FORT HOOD, Texas -- A certificate of appreciation for reaching top honors with 760 volunteer hours with the post's Adopt-A-School program was presented here Wednesday to the unit that tests all Army equipment systems.

Fort Hood Garrison Commander Col. Henry C. Perry handed the award for outstanding community service to U.S. Army Operational Test Command (USAOTC) Commander Brig. Gen. John C. Ulrich for the unit's connection with Florence, Texas' Florence Independent School District (FISD).

"It is more than checking a box for the Adopt-A-School program," said Angelica Salinas, the post's school liaison officer.

"It is building relationships and making a positive impact on the students and the community."

She explained the Adopt-A-School program supports nine Central Texas school districts containing 115 schools partnered with Fort Hood units.

"I would say they willingly exceeded the expectation," Salinas said.

Salinas went on to explain how the road to 760 hours was a building block process.

"Establishing a meet-and-greet with leadership from the unit and the school at the beginning of the school year; that helps set the tone and the guarantee of a successful partnership," she said.

Throughout the school year, for example, USAOTC Soldiers volunteered during Red Ribbon Week, coordinating with the Fort Hood Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP), to teach middle school students how alcohol and drugs can affect their bodies, along with troubles they may find with the law.

They also conducted flag etiquette training with fourth- and fifth-graders. FISD Elementary School Principal Kay Bradford said she used two students to handle flag duties, but after the training, she decided to have four to better handle and honor the flag.

During the 25th Annual "Make a Difference Day," USAOTC volunteer Soldiers combined with Copperas Cove Independent School District JROTC students to focus on improving Florence ISD's Elementary School playground with light maintenance, including painting, and general grounds keeping at the Middle School and High School sports fields.

"OTC has always been a reliable support team," said Salinas. "That says a lot about the USAOTC unit and team as whole, and I have observed it is a cohesive, hardworking and selfless group."


About the U.S. Army Operational Test Command:

As the Army's only independent operational tester, USAOTC tests and assesses Army, joint, and multi-service warfighting systems in realistic operational environments, using typical Soldiers to determine whether the systems are effective, suitable, and survivable. USAOTC is required by public law to test major systems before they are fielded to its ultimate customer -- the American Soldier.