(KCEN) -- It doesn't matter the weather or what hour of the night, if you're a soldier flying through Fort Hood's Robert Grey Airfield, the hug lady's warm embrace is sure to be in the forecast.
It's been nearly a year since the 160 soldiers with the 211th Aviation Group were last in her arms.
Eighty-one-year old Elizabeth Laird has been there for nearly all flights in and out of Fort Hood since 2003.
That's an estimated 530,000 hugs.
Laird said, "Hugs are good for you. You give somebody a hug and they smile and it lifts their spirits."
And with spirits lifted, Chief Warrant Officer II Jesse Griffin wanted to repay the favor.
He said, "We were all wondering, 'I wonder if the hug lady is there. I wonder if the hug lady is there,' and I saw her coming through, so I whipped out my patch I had for her."
Griffin appreciates the warm welcome he received from the hug lady.
He said, "My family is not here, but it's like she fills in for them."
Laird's been welcoming soldiers home for almost 10 years and rarely misses a flight.
Patches are some of the many tokens of appreciation Laird has received from soldiers over the years. So how long will the hugging continue?
Laird said, "As long as god gives me the strength to do it and as long as they let me come out here and do it."
She says it's her faith that keeps her going.
Laird said, "I can be hurting, I can be tired, as soon as I come through that door, it's all lifted up, and I have the strength to carry on."
And the troops are glad she does.
SPC Herbert Bloomer with the 211th Aviation Group said, "Continue to do this. I think it's really important to the troops and we all appreciate it."
Griffin said, "It's really cool that people are still around, still care. I thought you know, this war is forgotten, so it's nice to know that people still care."
The hug lady enjoys being able to welcome the servicemen home.
She said, "That's what we're here for, we're here to help one another and if this is my way to help somebody, that's what I'll do."
Proof that all the way to Afghanistan and back, a hug goes a long way.