FORT IRWIN, Calif.-Country singer Aaron Tippin hasn’t always done things the conventional way, so his decision to make a cross-country detour from the East Coast swing on his current tour should come as no surprise.

Tippin and his band flew into Las Vegas Wednesday night to perform at the National Training Center and Fort Irwin tonight before heading back to Las Vegas then to Nashville by plane to board a bus and continue their tour.

“When I was on the Bob Hope tour during the first Gulf War I made a pact that I was going to do everything I could to give the Soldiers a better homecoming than they received in Vietnam,” he said.

Nine trips to Iraq and Afghanistan with a 10th planned later this year, Tippin has been a man of his word proving his hit song, “You’ve Got To Stand For Something,” which led to his being asked to join Bob Hope during a USO tour during the Gulf War, is more than just a song, it’s who he is.

Even as troop withdrawals continue in Iraq and Afghanistan, Tippin said he is well aware that the impacts of combat aren’t simply left on the battlefield when Soldiers return home to their families.

“I work with a group that brings Soldiers to the outdoors in a lodge and lets them discuss things,” he said, adding that his support of the troops will never wane.

While it’s likely some of the Soldiers at Fort Irwin have seen him perform overseas, Tippin said tonight’s performance is different.

“Some of them have seen me perform on the battlefield, but tonight a lot of guys will have their kids with them and just have fun, which is what tonight’s all about,” he said.

With nine tours to combat zones, Tippin said he has seen first-hand the professionalism and preparedness of American Soldiers, so playing at one of the combat training centers is the icing on the cake.

“It’s like a an oasis out here in the desert,” he said on the day that Fort Irwin celebrated the grand opening of the Irwin Town Center, which serves as community gathering place for celebrations in addition to being a retail and dining hub on the installation.

Those words reflected NTC and Fort Irwin commanding general Brig. Gen. Terry Ferrell’s remarks earlier in the day that the town center festivities were “a stepping stone in Fort Irwin becoming ‘an installation of choice.”