Elizabeth Laird is an 81 year old woman whose “base of operations” is at Fort Hood. Her mission? To give every deploying and returning soldier a hug before they leave the States.
Laird began in 2003 when a deploying soldier hugged her and his comrades got jealous and asked for hugs as well. Now, Laird gives every soldier a hug before they leave for their deployment and another hug when they come back. That makes her the last hug they receive on American soil and also one of the first when they come back.
This has given her the affectionate nickname of “the hug lady”. Some soldiers have hugged her over six times now, making her a familiar part of life for those based in Fort Hood. Her hugs are not solely reserved for somber occasions either.
If she sees a military member walking around town, they are all entitled to a hug. In her words, the soldiers all “love this country” and she’s just trying to do whatever she can to get a smile out of them.
“It’s just my way of saying thanks for what they do for us”, says Laird with a smile. With all that service members do for this country, Laird’s actions are a small but effective way of showing appreciation.