USO Warrior and Family Center at Bethesda is a Place Wounded Warriors Can Call Home
The USO Warrior and Family Center at Naval Support Activity Bethesda, Maryland, the home of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, opened in April. USO photo by Joseph Andrew Lee
Sometimes, the mental grind of a recovery can be as tough as the physical obstacles.
That’s why the USO openedthe second of two Warrior and Family Centers at Naval Support Activity Bethesda, Maryland, the home of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in April.
“You can come here and cook food if you want to. You can come here and barbecue if you want to. You can come here and watch movies, play video games, learn music, use the Internet … all that is here,” said medically retired Army Sgt. Kevin Gatson, a recent patient at Bethesda. “I think this will give someone a place to kind of sit back, reflect, relax, work on themselves just on a personal level — a worry-free zone in a sense.”
Like its sister center on the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital campus in Virginia, the USO Warrior and Family Center at Bethesda provides a place where families can come together for everything from meals and game nights to post-military career counseling and classes. read more…
Troops and Families Hit the Beach at Warrior Week
More than 550 wounded warriors and their families headed to Virginia Beach, Virginia, in May to enjoy surf, sand and sun as part of the USO’s inaugural Warrior Week.
“The city of Virginia Beach approached me and asked if the USO could expand the programs and services that we’re doing for the wounded, ill and injured here in Virginia Beach,” said Jeff Hill, USO regional vice president, U.S. “We did the research … and found out that outdoor activities [were] one of the favorite things that our wounded, ill and injured like to do.”
With the help of the USO and local adaptive outdoor recreational organizations, participants enjoyed activities like kayaking, surfing, waterskiing and deep-sea fishing. Wounded warriors and their families were also invited to attend free outdoor concerts and shows by local performers and the USO Show Troupe. read more…
Dr. J.D. Crouch II Becomes President and CEO of the USO
Dr. J.D. Crouch II started his new role at the USO on July 28. USO photo
Former Assistant Secretary of Defense and Deputy National Security Advisor Dr. J.D. Crouch II was named the 23rd president and CEO of the USO on June 23.
“I know I am fortunate to be able to join a remarkable USO family that encompasses colleagues, volunteers, supporters and their families,” Crouch said. “I am proud to join and lead this team and eager to begin our work together.”
Most recently, Dr. Crouch served as CEO of QinetiQ North America, a position he left in May. From 2001 to 2003, he served as former President George W. Bush’s assistant secretary of defense for international security policy, focusing on missile defense, nuclear forces and technology security. He later served 10 months as the U.S. ambassador to Romania before returning to Washington in March of 2005 to assume the role of deputy national security advisor. read more…
Despite Logistics, USO Pacific Centers Help Troops Celebrate Birthdays Far From Home
Marines smile with a birthday cake at a USO Center on Okinawa, Japan. USO photo
Birthdays aren’t supposed to be stressful. But when you’re separated by the world’s largest ocean and a dozen time zones, nothing is easy.
Luckily, families with loved ones serving in the Pacific don’t have to figure out the closest bakery to base, or if that bakery can translate their message or even deliver the cake. All they have to do is contact USO Pacific and ask about Operation Birthday Cake.
“USO Pacific’s Operation Birthday Cake is an amazing signature program that connects loved ones around the world,” said Carly Harris, USO Pacific regional vice president. So far, the program has delivered over 1,000 surprise birthday cakes to troops serving in the Pacific.
For many stateside families, an OBC surprise is the easiest way they can send warm wishes and celebrate their deployed loved one’s special day. read more…
Celebs and BET Experience Attendees Sends Messages of Thanks to Troops
The son of a deployed service member sends a message to his dad at the Mobile USO at the BET Experience at the Los Angeles Convention Center in late June. USO photo by Eric Brandner
Some did it for their family members. Others did it for fun. And some just thought it was the right thing to do.
The USO parked one of its custom USO Mobile vehicles in the Los Angeles Convention Center on June 28 at the BET Experience and asked attendees and celebrities to send personal messages of thanks to America’s troops.
“So many of us want to say thank you and often times we don’t know how,” said Sonya Lockett, BET vice president of corporate social responsibility. “And this is just such a great way to be able to say thank you to our military all over the world.” read more…
Lockheed Martin Volunteers, PGA Tour Fans Build Deployment Kits for Military Kids
Marine Staff Sgt. Tyler Barnes, right, stationed at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., assembles a deployment kit for military kids. USO photo
When children are faced with a parent’s deployment — or worse, a parent who doesn’t return from deployment — they encounter emotions which may be difficult to express.
Understanding this, volunteers from Lockheed Martin helped Quicken Loans National golf tournament spectators at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, assemble hundreds of With You all The Way Deployment Kits for military children in June.
The USO, in partnership with the Trevor Romain Company and the Comfort Crew for Military Kids, uses the With You All the Way program to support children ages 6 to 18. The unique kit helps children deal with deployment challenges and even establishes valuable knowledge for the reintegration process. read more…
Air Force Vet Now Serves Troops at USO Shindand
USO Shindand Center Manager Frank Stinson
In his words, Frank Stinson joined up with the USO in 2009 because he “just wanted to give something back to our active-duty military.”
Today, the 21-year Air Force veteran is serving again—as the center manager of the USO Center on Forward Operating Base Shindand in Afghanistan.
USO Shindand, situated on a dusty airfield on the western plains of Afghanistan, offers forward-deployed troops a respite away from the everyday rigors of combat. Stinson, an Arkansas native, said that the troops who visit his center come to recharge and reconnect with loved ones.
“They want a relaxed place to come [to] and they want computer access and phones to be able to call home,” Stinson wrote in an email. read more…