FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Celebrated as the backbone of the U.S. military, spouses enjoyed a day of appreciation for the sacrifices they make and the unyielding support they give to their families with an afternoon of pampering and prizes at the Fort Sam Houston Community Center (formerly known as the Fort Sam Houston Club) May 6.

Col. Mary Garr, commander of the 502nd Mission Support Group, also joined the celebration and thanked the spouses for fulfilling a critical role in support of service members.

"The military is so much more now, with single parents serving as mom and dad and now we have a lot more male military spouses," Garr said.

"Our nation has been at war for a decade now and we know deployments are very tense and stressful for families. We also know that spouses drive the decision making, so we recruit our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guard and Airmen but we retain our families.

"Those families say that when times are hard it is very important to provide family programs and work with spouses to make sure they can handle the stresses and sacrifices that this way of life imposes upon them," Garr added. "Military Spouse Appreciation Day is a small way to thank our spouses for the support and effort they give every day."

Military Spouse Appreciation Day - held on the Friday before Mother's Day - was created in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan to honor military spouses.

The spouses at the celebration relaxed and soaked in their moment in the spotlight. Military wife Luz Davis brought along her 4-year-old son, Nolan, and said she is grateful for the opportunity to find out more about Fort Sam Houston.

"This is the first time I have ever been at an event like this," Davis said. "I think it is awesome that we are able to get so much information on things to do on Fort Sam."

The War Fighter and Family Readiness, 502nd FSS Marketing and the Keith A. Campbell Memorial Library, along with several sponsors from the community were available to provide everything from massages to make up and even candles and survivor information.

"An important part of the United Way mission is supporting military families," said Richard L. Abrams, United Way military outreach coordinator.

"This event allows us to let spouses know what is available to them through our 211 program, like emergency assistance with child care, utilities, counseling, and even help in case of a broken down vehicle."

The Fort Sam Houston Community Center provided lunch for the group of spouses. The fellowship was a welcome change of pace for military spouse Juan Rivera who enjoyed the afternoon as much as his 19-month-old son, Wyatt.

"This is awesome. The more they offer events like this, the more it makes all of us want to be a part of the military family and get more involved," Rivera said. "It's fantastic. Thank you Fort Sam Houston."