EAST FORT BLISS, Texas - Fort Bliss volunteers received royal treatment April 21 during the "What a Wednesday" luncheon held at East Fort Bliss.

The Fort Bliss Army Volunteer Program held the annual luncheon to show appreciation for Fort Bliss volunteers as part of National Volunteer Appreciation week.

"What a Wednesday" was a day of pampering, offered free to all Fort Bliss volunteers. The indulgence included: massage therapy, manicures, food, a guest speaker and much more.

"We want to pamper our volunteers," said Tephanie Hopper, the Fort Bliss Army Volunteer Program manager. "Our volunteers do so much, they need to be shown how much we appreciate them."

Patricia A. Rees, an Army spouse and volunteer, said volunteers are essential to the Army lifestyle.

"Without them everything would be so much harder to do," Rees said.

The "What a Wednesday" guest speaker was Julie L. Negron, a Stars and Stripes cartoonist who writes a comic strip about the life of a military spouse called "Jenny." Her message was about the importance Soldiers and families being active in the military community.

Volunteer Appreciation Week was started by former President Richard M. Nixon in 1974 to formally recognize volunteers and their contributions to the American society.

The week started off April 19th with "Manic Monday," which Hopper described as "a big adult play-date," and ended Friday with an awards ceremony.

"I think it's a wonderful week," said Rees, who started volunteering soon after her and her husband arrived at Fort Bliss. "It's a great way to thank our volunteers."

"Without volunteers many programs would cease to exist or not exist to their full extent," said Hopper.

There are many areas and opportunities for Soldiers and families to lend their support.

Hopper said Fort Bliss has more than 23,000 volunteers who support the military at one point or another during the year.

"We logged over 150,000 volunteer hours in 2009, and that equated into more than $3 million worth of services," said Hopper.

While this is the second year the Fort Bliss Army Volunteer Program has observed National Volunteer Appreciation Week, Hopper believes this year was much better than the last.

"We have more volunteers participating," said Hopper. "We have better events."