About 6,000 soldiers, family members and retirees on chowed down together on Fort Hood for Thanksgiving.

For some, their brothers in arms are the only family they've got for the holidays.

It's no dining room, but for so many of our American heroes, the dining facility (DFAC) will do.

MAJ Avery Stemmons and his son AJ didn't make it home to New Orleans for Thanksgiving, but they did make the best out of what they have Fort Hood.

"These are the people that you see every day, so just like with any team, you want to have that good strong bond, and this is kind of a way of showing them that you do care about them," said Avery.

And watching the soldiers depend on each other showed 9-year old AJ that the word "family" is open to interpretation.

AJ said, "I mostly think about how they interact with each other, or how they fight for our country."

So this year some troops say they have each other to be thankful for.

"I consider them family, so I'm still with family and friends," said SPC Marco Gonzalez from San Diego.

"It definitely makes me feel a little better about not being home," added his friend, SPC Kevin Tedder from North Carolina.

LTG Donald Campbell visited Fort Hood's five DFACs, grateful that nearly 30,000 more troops are home from war this holiday season.

"We still have a few that are obviously in harms way in Afghanistan and other parts of the world, but I'm really thankful to be able to share this time with our soldiers and their families and, in particular, with my family," said GEN Campbell.

It's that sharing part that's important to Avery, relatives or not, showing them they're not alone.

"It's a good way to come out and teach [AJ] how to do that at a young age, so that tradition can carry on," he said.

Eating in dining halls isn't just a last resort for some