Your USO at Work: The Newsletter of the USO (April 2012)
(Issue 20, April 2012)
Sesame Street/USO Experience Hits the Road Again
Military life isn’t easy to explain. That’s especially true when talking to kids whose lives are turned upside down every time Mom or Dad is deployed.
The USO understands these issues, and has teamed with Sesame Street to create a unique tour that speaks directly to military children. The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families—the USO’s longest running, free traveling tour based on Sesame Street’s military family initiative—is rolling onto U.S. military bases across the country this year. The first show took place April 7 at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.
Katie—a Sesame Street character created exclusively for the tour—was first introduced to military families in April 2011. This year’s 70-stop tour showcases the power of friendship, as Elmo and his Sesame pals help Katie open up about her fears and excitement as she deals with moving to a new place and making new friends.
Since its debut in July 2008, the Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families has taken its message to more than 248,000 troops and military families, performing 433 shows on 131 military bases in 33 states and 11 countries.
The tour, which kicked off the “USO Supports Military Families across the Globe” campaign, is part of the USO’s mission to lift the spirits of troops and their families.
USO Footprint Expands to Tampa Bay Area
The USO’s reach is getting bigger.
Work has started on a new USO center at the Tampa International Airport that could serve as many as 300,000 service members and their families each year.
The USO Tampa Bay project is a part of ongoing renovations at Tampa International Airport. Planners are hoping the airport’s USO will be open for business by the end of the summer.
“The groundbreaking … brings us one step closer to having a world-class facility in our community to properly service our military and their families while moving through the Tampa International Airport,” said Walter Lamerton, Chairman of the USO Tampa Bay, Inc., Board of Directors.
USO Center Honors Mother of Recovering Marine
The USO never wavers from its commitment to lift the spirits of troops and their families. But sometimes, we take a moment to honor those who have given so much.
USO of Metropolitan Washington did just that in March, awarding the John Gioia Patriot Award to Terri Santiago at its 30th Annual Awards Dinner on March 22 in Arlington, Virginia. Santiago— the mother of Marine Christopher Santiago, who was severely wounded in Iraq—has been a source of strength and inspiration for several wounded service members on their road to recovery.
USO Metro’s program also included a salute to active-duty troops and special recognition of the 150th anniversary of the Medal of Honor (18 Medal of Honor recipients attended the dinner).
Special guests at the event included “The Man of a Thousand Voices” Rich Little and President and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space and Security Dennis Muilenburg.
Kroger Honoring Our Heroes Again
Kroger Group Vice President of Corporate Affairs Lynn Marmer, left, presents USO Senior Vice President of Development Kelli Seely with a check before the Daytona 500 in February. Kroger used the race as a platform to announce the renewal of its Honoring Our Heroes campaign, which raised $1.5 million for the USO in 2011.
Workshop Gives Troops Idea of Civilian Career Options
Transitioning out of the military can be daunting, but the USO is ready to help.
Hire Heroes USA/USO Workshops—presented by the USO and Hire Heroes USA— bring small groups of wounded troops together on bases across the country for intensive coaching on how to build resumes, create job strategies and improve interviewing skills. The goal of the program—which has helped 204 participants to date—is to build a new level of confidence in these men and women as they start on a path to a new career.
Local USOs work with military commands to identify and register transitioning wounded, ill or injured troops for these workshops. After a few sessions, participants get a chance to have mock interviews with real employers at Career Opportunity Days—small, low-key, job-fair style gatherings hosted by the USO, Hire Heroes USA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
These events have expanded to Washington, D.C., Fort Carson, Colorado, Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Camp Pendleton, California and San Antonio, Texas. Find out more at uso.org/warriorandfamilycare.
Brooks Gives Back
You don’t have to read deep into Joe Brooks’ biography before you pick up on the theme—the man wants to make a difference.
Brooks spent much of his nearly 20 years at Delaware River Waterfront Corporation— where he was acting president from 2004 to 2009—giving back to the community. He helped coordinate scholarship programs, helped establish a cribs program for the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Foundation and assisted in establishing an outreach program for a Philadelphia-area orphanage and foster care outfit.
And now, he’s helping lead the charge for the USO. Brooks signed on with the USO in 2009. He’s the president and chief operating officer of Liberty USO—a charter organization that runs four USO centers in the northeast corner of Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey.
The job allowed Brooks to stay right at home— he’s a lifelong Philadelphia resident—where he lives with his wife Suzanne and their four children.
“My favorite component to the job is the interaction with our warriors,” he said. “As a civilian who has never worn the uniform … working alongside the heroes is what makes the job cool.”
With nearly three years of USO service under his belt, Brooks said his best advice to people starting their USO journey is to spend as much time as possible getting to know the troops they’re working to support.
“Also, do not be afraid to ask questions,” he said. “The military uses acronyms and peppers their conversations with them. If you allow the communication dynamic to continue without asking ‘What does that mean?’ you can quickly get lost.”
UPCOMING EVENTS *Give thanks to those who give their time during Volunteer Week, which runs April 15-21 * The 2012 Warrior Games will take place April 30-May 5 * Help the troops by sending Mom flowers on Mother’s Day, May 13 from FTD.com/uso *