ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. Aca,!" As part of the Department of the Army's annual "thank you" to the supportive wives and husbands of its Soldiers, the Aberdeen Proving Ground Army Community Service hosted Spouse Appreciation Day festivities in its headquarters at building 2754 May 6.

Celestine Beckett, ACS director, and the ACS staff and volunteers welcomed the dozens of APG spouses who dropped by for cake, punch and networking with other spouses.

Beckett said the event lets spouses know that the sacrifices they make are appreciated and informs them about ACS and Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs and services.

In the lobby, which was gaily decorated with balloons, banners and posters, visitors were greeted by Marilyn Howard, ACS employment assistance manager, ACS volunteer Kenya Proctor and ACS Family Advocacy Program and Volunteer Joyce Harris, who distributed gift bags and raffle tickets for potted flowers from the commissary and gift certificates from AAFES. Guests received red, yellow or white silk roses and browsed through the dozens of flyers and pamphlets available on tables in the hallway and conference room that detailed ACS and DFMWR programs and services as well as books offering advice on relationships and social programs.

In the day room, volunteers from American Legion Auxiliaries sliced cake and poured punch for guests, led by Rusty Beeg, state president for the American Legion Auxiliary. Beeg said auxiliary volunteers visit military installations around the state to assist in Family programs and activities.

"We're reaching out to all installations to see where we can be of help in special programming for our service members and their Families," Beeg said.

Her volunteers included Gail Hanulik and Lori Chatham of Unit 47 in Havre de Grace and Colleen Bach from Unit 195 in Baltimore.

Guests agreed that they appreciated being appreciated.

"Every time I come here, I win something," said Gerry Wiley, an education technician with the Ordnance Mechanical Maintenance School, after winning a potted flower.

The wife of a retired chief warrant officer, Wiley said she tries to attend every Spouse Appreciation Day.

"It's important to have this day," she said. "We get to share stories and exchange information. Even though my husband is retired, we're still part of the Army Family."

One Soldier in attendance, Sgt. 1st Class Cory Fant of the 61st Ordnance Brigade, said he attended for his wife.

"She's working but she told me to be here so I'm just following orders," he said, adding that he understands the significance of holding a spouse appreciation event.

"My wife didn't understand military life at first; it was a culture shock for her," Fant said. "But she made the adjustment and now she's used to everything. She handles my deployments, raises our two daughters and even helps others trying to make the adjustment. She drives on and I'd have a hard time doing my job without that level of support."

As they gathered pamphlets from the information table, spouses Shanell Henry and Jody Wojciechowski, industrial engineers and coworkers at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, said it was their first time attending.

Wojciechowski said she was gathering information because she doesn't have time to visit as often as she'd like.

"I think it's really a good idea," she said. "There's a lot of good information here."

"This is awesome," Henry added. "I'll be sure to enquire about some of these programs and make it a point to come back next year."