Operation Appreciation
One-thousand bouquets were delivered in honor of Military Spouse Appreciation Day at Fort Hood, Texas, May 7. Texas supermarket chain H-E-B donated the flowers, as well as volunteers to pass them out to Fort Hood families as part of their Operation Appreciation. (Photo Credit: Stephanie Salmon, Fort Hood Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT HOOD, Texas - Teaming up with Fort Hood’s Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare & Recreation, Texas supermarket chain H-E-B (which not many know stands informally for “Here Everything’s Better”) donated 1,000 flower bouquets, as well as backpacks, to military spouses throughout the community here, May 7, in honor of Military Spouse Appreciation Day.

The event was hosted by DFMWR at the Apache Arts and Crafts Center, where a drive-through system was developed to donate the bouquets and other items to military spouses. Volunteers from H-E-B, as well as the Fort Hood USO, were on hand to help hand out the bouquets as military spouses and families drove through.

“Today, H-E-B and the volunteers here are giving away free bouquets and H-E-B Operation Appreciation backpacks to all of the military spouses that come by,” Sally Mehle, Fort Hood area community coordinator with H-E-B, said. “Operation Appreciation is a storewide, statewide program where we support veterans, spouses and the families of active duty Soldiers.

“As a military spouse myself, I think it’s such a hard job when you have your family, and your Soldier is constantly doing different activities and events, and you know, they’re gone a lot,” Mehle continued. “It can be really challenging. So this is just a special way to thank those (spouses) and just recognize them for their dedication and service to their family.”

Spc. Regan Ealey, who was present with his wife Erin, and their new daughter Brooklyn, was able to present his wife with some flowers and thank her for what she does for their family.

Ealey family
Spc. Regan Ealey, his wife Erin and their infant daughter Brooklyn stop for a photo in front of the H-E-B Operation Appreciation truck, which delivered more than 1,000 bouquets for military families at Fort Hood, Texas, May 7. (Photo Credit: Stephanie Salmon, Fort Hood Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

“Spouses are the backbone of everything, especially when Soldiers are deployed,” Regan said. “(As Soldiers) we give a sacrifice, yes, but we don’t see the sacrifices our spouses do every day.

“We just had a baby, and (Erin’s) up every day,” Regan continued. “Like, my life didn’t really change that much. But hers changed, she’s with the baby when I can’t be. If I’m in the field, or I get deployed, I’m not going to be there. So it’s on her. So she needs as much appreciation as she can get because she has all of these battles that I’m not home to fight for her.”

Staff Sgt. Samantha Caldwell, 1st Cavalry Division, stopped by the event to pick up some flowers for her wife, who was unable to come to the event.

“This event is great because my wife appreciates these things,” Caldwell said. “She takes care of the home when we’re not here and when we’re deployed or out in the field (and) takes care of the kids. She just mans the home-front.

Staff Sgt. Samantha Caldwell
Staff Sgt. Samantha Caldwell smiles after picking up a bouquet of flowers for her wife at Fort Hood, Texas, May 7. More than 1,000 bouquets were given out as part of Operation Appreciation, sponsored by the Texas supermarket chain H-E-B, in honor of Military Spouse Appreciation Day. (Photo Credit: Stephanie Salmon, Fort Hood Public Affairs) VIEW ORIGINAL

“I just think she is beautiful, so why not give her something beautiful in return,” Caldwell added.

Also present at the event was Army Community Services, who donated many arts and crafts projects and items along with the flowers and backpacks from H-E-B.

“Military spouse appreciation is part of our job as Army Community Services,” James Elzie, branch manager for employment and volunteer service branch for ACS, said. “Being a military spouse myself when I first got out, you know, I understand the trials and tribulations that military and their families go through. So, in a sense, we have a ton of opportunity to thank them, and we want to do that; not just today, but every day. We just want to thank (the spouses) for their service.”