Kellie Pickler is the latest recipient of the Heart of the Warrior Award from the USO of North Carolina. The honor was presented to the songstress at the Ninth Annual Salute to Freedom Gala in Raleigh, N.C on Oct.19.

“I am so blessed to have such a beautiful friendship with the people that make up the USO," Pickler says of the honor, which is given to those who through their selfless service and contributions continuously lift the spirits of the troops and their families.

"I come from a military family. I've always had a great deal of respect for our service men and women," she adds. "I work a lot with the USO, I love working with them. We've been able to do so many tours overseas. To be in a position where you can take a little piece of home to your service men and women, why would you not do that? They need to know we have their back because they have ours.”

The reigning 'Dancing With the Stars' champ has performed before more than 30,000 troops in eight different countries since her first USO tour in 2007. But while she often finds herself in precarious situations overseas, without any of the comforts of home, she insists there is no place she'd rather be.

“I’ve been so blessed to work a lot with the USO and travel overseas to Afghanistan and Iraq and Kosovo and all kinds of other military bases. I’ve been able to see firsthand just exactly what they’re doing,” Pickler states. “It takes a very special person to sacrifice everything. When I say ‘everything,’ I don’t mean just their time, I mean their life. Everything! Their family, their kids, their loved ones. [They] sacrifice everything to put your life on the line for us, and it’s such a great, honorable, heroic thing."

The gala also honored service members and people from the local community who support the military personnel. A live auction also took place during the evening festivities, which included a guitar donated by Pickler. The auction, which was sponsored by the USO of North Carolina, raised $81,550.

Pickler's next album, 'The Woman I Am,' will be available on Black River Entertainment on Nov. 11. Pre-order the record here.