Chickens coming home to roost

After many years (since 2003) of giving hugs to every departing and returning soldier from Ft Hood, TX no matter the hour of departure or return she found herself in need of encouragement.

 At 83-years-old, Elizabeth Laird is known as the “Hug Lady.”

Since 2003, she has greeted every single soldier who has passed through Fort Hood in Gatesville, Texas and has given out, by her count, around 500,000 hugs and cards bearing Psalm 91. Today reported that she used to simply shake the soldiers’ hands, but when one soldier went in for a hug one day, she changed her entire routine.


But on Nov. 3, Laird was admitted to Metroplex Hospital. She has been battling breast cancer since 2005, and as she refuses chemotherapy, the cancer has left Laird in a weakened state.

Yet even though she remains in the hospital, Today reported that the hugs still continue — only this time she is the one on the receiving end.

Image via Twitter @TODAYshow

As soldiers come to visit her in the hospital — one from as far away as New York — they are quick to give her a hug and some even bring with them the card with Psalm 91. Many soldiers can even recall the exact day they received a hug from Laird.

“When they enter the room, they give me a hug and then we talk about anything from their family to what it was like overseas or if they got a civilian job upon returning,” Laird told Today. “Sometimes the line is so long that we have to turn people away.”

“They tell me how much my hug meant to them and how they’ll never forget it,” Laird said. “A lot of [them were] leaving home for the first time and some of their families couldn’t be there to see them off.”

Laird enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on her 18th birthday in 1950, Today reported. She used to volunteer for the Salvation Army with her late husband, Earnest, and once the Iraq War began in 2003, she requested to go back to work.


The “Hug Lady” is there, no matter the time, when soldiers come and go from the military post, according to Trish, whose husband received one of the famed hugs in 2006 before being deployed. Since Laird lost her driving license in 2006, Trish has given the woman a ride to Fort Hood every time.

Image source: WTHR-TV

“The Hug Lady is the last one they see before deployment and the first civilian they see when they return,” Trish told Today. “She’s there at 2 a.m., even if only a couple soldiers are on the flight.”

“And I’ve had a few young men say, ‘Oh, my wife wouldn’t like this.’ I said, ‘Oh, if I was young and all, it’d be different. But I’m a great grandmother, therefore it makes it all right for me to give you a hug,’” Laird toldWTHR-TV in 2014.

Laird’s acts of kindness have not gone unnoticed. Today reported that on Wednesday she received a letter from former President George W. Bush thanking her.

Laird’s son, Richard Dewees, has set up a GoFundMe page to help with medical expenses. So far, the fundraising page has raised more than $87,000 in just 11 days.

According to an update on the page, Laird was released from the hospital Friday night and is working in rehab at a nursing facility. The page says that she can have visitors and encourages such.

To leave a comment, please sign in with
or or

Comments (28)

  1. dreamshadow59

    Awwwwww…..What a woman….God Bless her heart!!!!!

    November 21, 2015
    1. SEC

      Indeed and those she blessed are returning that love

      November 21, 2015
  2. Hugh_Pizmehoff

    Now that is what I call “morale for the troops”

    November 21, 2015
    1. SEC

      Especiallly that they get to return the favor.

      November 21, 2015
  3. fierylady

    How wonderful. She has both given and received. Deserves everything she gets!!

    November 21, 2015
    1. SEC

      and it is nice to see so many stepping up to the plate

      November 21, 2015
  4. EyeVey

    May she be blessed!

    November 21, 2015
  5. mrmacq

    good for the lady
    notice how we hear the good story’s
    what of those now on skid row
    pushing the shopping carts
    that america forgot?
    they too put their chests out there catching all incoming rounds
    wheres the threads for them?
    wheres the help for them?
    a lot come back broken
    and swept under the rug

    November 22, 2015
    1. SEC

      excuse me but I’m fully aware of the homeless veterans. This blog was created to recognize things that people do that are of a laudatory nature. I’ve posted elsewhere on problems with the VA

      November 22, 2015
      1. mrmacq

        why is it you take so much i say as an insult?
        is it because you know i’m not a yank?
        dont get me wrong
        i applaud the old bat
        unfortunately and fortunately they come home
        she hugs
        then the ones that really need the help are forgotten
        …down there on skid row
        the media never takes the time to go looking for them
        and its rather doubtful those barely hanging onto sanity are reading your thread
        so what truly is your thread?
        for those not near as broken
        nor broken at all…obviously
        but these are not the ones requiring the help
        theyre giving back ’cause theyre not broken
        thee whole gist of your thread

        November 22, 2015
        1. SEC

          You’ve trained me well to expect it. I was not insulted just stating that the discussion you were initiating was not within the purpose I started this blog

          November 22, 2015
          1. mrmacq

            youve written off all those that cant pull themselves up anymore
            “their fault”
            let us concentrate on those that dont require any help
            and make a big deal out of it
            just so we can pretend it’s all good
            its a “feel good” thread
            that dont cost you nuttin
            everything’s perfect…why concern ourselves

            November 22, 2015
            1. SEC

              Harldly, if I had why would I take in young ones who have been thrown out of their houses until they can get their feet. Why would I volunteer at places that help those who are hungry. But then I don’t talk about those things. And you are deliberately either trying to be insulting or provoking.

              November 22, 2015
            2. mrmacq

              no dear
              im concerned about forgotten vets
              those that knowingly threw their chests in front of incoming rounds
              in defense of their countrymen
              (pretty sure i stated such)

              November 22, 2015
            3. mrmacq

              you were military dear
              but for luck of the draw you might be where they are

              November 22, 2015
            4. SEC

              As am I as a vet too

              November 22, 2015
            5. mrmacq

              pretty sure i said just that
              but this is what i dont get
              that which ive been attempting to get across all a long
              kudos to the cat lady
              however its a wasted gesture
              most of those she welcomes home dont need her kudos
              other than “ya beat up someone that had dick all to do with it,,,way to go”
              nor your acclimation on a job well done by her
              but its there that it falls short
              the real people in need are those ignored
              the same shit happens here and elsewhere
              however at least here and elsewhere some of the truly basic needs are addressed
              not all but at least the basics
              its not as if they were forced to go
              (wait that comment might start up yet another bone of contention)

              November 22, 2015
            6. SEC

              It was about those she greeted and hugged farewell stepping up and returning the love to her when she needed the encouraging touch as well.

              November 22, 2015
            7. mrmacq

              well of course
              ya dont figure we didnt get that?
              problem being
              thats where it ended
              and your thread ended it there as well
              kudos to the grandma we all require
              she did her part
              as best she could
              id hate to have to see the lady having to navigate those seedier parts of town
              where some after serving now must live…and die

              November 22, 2015
            8. SEC

              So she did what she could as a voluteer with the USO. And because as an elderly widow you are down on this post because she did not go into the streets? Really? Not everyone is equipped to do that. I’ve done other posts on those who have done for homeless vets may I suggest

              November 22, 2015
            9. mrmacq

              negative dear
              i’m not down on her at all
              perhaps i should give you a day or two to consider what ive actually posted?

              November 22, 2015
            10. SEC

              Not needed you are down on me because I didn’t turn this post into advocacy for the homeless vet or reform of the services (lack there of) offered by the VA.

              November 22, 2015
            11. mrmacq

              whatever sec
              feel persecuted in which ever way you choose
              ifin the thought that maybe you misinterpreted everything goes against what you choose to believe
              no sweat off my brow
              a tad bit of laughter at thee need for yet again the yank to be right
              but hey
              i can live with that

              November 22, 2015
            12. SEC

              As I told you at the start I’m fully aware. But you insist that this post be turned into a discussion of the homeless veterans and those who have for various reasons PTSD or other problems fallen through the cracks, though I gently tried to say that that discussion was more appropriate on other posts. Persecuted hardly just wondering at your inability to aprreciate an occurrence that not only demonstrates a veteran (she who you call an old bat) to encourage and cheer fellow service men and their returning the favor when she is in need. So be it rant on about how we should look to a bloated government who refuses to get off of its bloated butt. When there are alternative treatments (hyperbaric for one) that show promise which the jackassed in the government will not authorize. There are several veterans serving veterans outside of channels.

              November 22, 2015
            13. mrmacq

              now you are starting to babble
              talk to me another time when youre not so worked up that you attribute me shit ive never said nor implied
              my own mother we called an old bat
              at her insistence
              if she had had cats? most likely “the cat lady”
              most people aint so thin skinned
              looking for anything to attempt changing the subject
              simply cause they dont wish to address the subject
              notice sec you never mentioned my saying “kudos to”
              instead you fixated on only the affectionate names (that we use and that are accepted) that you might attempt to smear
              thats called attempting divergence
              same as youre attempting to diverge from what i’m actually saying
              as i stated
              i’ll give you a couple of days for it to sink in
              yours is the society that rewards others that dont require your rewards
              simply cause it costs you nothing
              those that do require your help
              you ignore
              because That Is someone else’s job

              November 22, 2015
            14. mrmacq

              so heres a question sec
              two terminals down where dudes are now amututees
              where theve had thier bloody balls blowin off
              wheres the feel good thread there?
              wheres the cat lady?
              and of course two terminals down from that
              wheres the cat lady huggin the coffins?

              November 22, 2015
          2. SEC

            Sorry I don’t hear any admiration for her in the term “old bat” not even a modicum of affection. Nor any for the appreciation for her service in the AF nor the USO. Just a flippant passing “kudos”. How on God’s green earth do you get off saying I ignore!

            November 22, 2015