When country singer Toby Keith agreed to do a two-week USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour of the Middle East in 2002, he thought it was a one-shot nod to his late father, an Army veteran. He' s been back eight more times: "Being around people who put it on the line every day is amazing," says Keith, 50. He tries to better soldiers' everyday lives as well. During a 2007 trip to Afghanistan, he saw how troops in remote areas lived between "sandbag" walls, without the comforts of home. That inspired him to sponsor the USO2GO program, which has distributed more than 400 care packages to remote U.S. bases abroad. In 2009 Keith received the Distinguished Service Award from the Military Officers Association of America — an honor he says dwarfs his many music awards.