Your USO at Work: The Newsletter of the USO (Sept. 2013)
(Issue 28, September 2013)
Hundreds Host Barbecue for the Troops Events
Summer may be drawing to a close, but Barbecue for the Troops events are still flaring up around the United States. Nearly 950 people have registered to host events at barbecueforthetroops.org.
Fox News reporter Elizabeth Prann and her husband, Baltimore Orioles pitcher Darren O’Day, hosted a Barbecue for the Troops for more than 180 attendees on Aug. 4 at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Guests included 18 wounded, ill and injured troops and their and 10 Orioles players.
“We loved telling our heroes in person how much we appreciated them,” Prann said in an email.
She said the event had raised roughly $17,000, including a $5,000 donation from the Orioles. That number is expected to climb, with donations still coming in from an online auction.
It’s not too late to show your appreciation for America’s military by hosting a Barbecue for the Troops. Find out more by going to the website mentioned above or call 1-855-4USO-BBQ.
San Diego Opens Largest USO Airport Center in the World
Before recruits bound for Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MRCD) San Diego lay eyes on their first drill instructor, they are introduced to a USO volunteer at the San Diego International Airport.
“It’s both the happiest and saddest day of a young recruit’s life,” said Brig. Gen. Daniel D. Yoo, MCRD commanding general, at the grand opening of the USO Neil Ash Airport Center. “It’s the happiest day when they are introduced to some of the warmest people on this planet: USO volunteers. Then it quickly becomes the saddest when they step off that bus onto the yellow footprints to meet a creature called a [drill instructor].”
The new 10,000-square-foot facility located just outside the San Diego International Airport will be open every day and will support more than 125,000 troops and their families annually. It will offer not only refreshments, wireless high-speed Internet and Skype access, but luggage room and expanded restrooms to monitors listing airline departure and arrival times so troops can track changes to their flights.
The center also features 15 sculptures – representing individuality, community and connectivity – created by coLAB Studio and made possible by the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority’s Public Art Program.
“Looking at this wonderful facility, I think about the enormous support the airport authority and the San Diego community provide for our military, their families and USO San Diego,” said USO Neil Ash Airport Center Director Bobby Woods.
Like its predecessor, the center is named in honor of Neil Ash, a World War II and Korean War veteran and the visionary behind the creation of the first USO center at San Diego International Airport in 1990.
Ex-NFLers Visit Deployed Troops
This summer, a group of formerNFL players continued the 48-yearrelationship between the NFL andthe USO with a USO Entertainmenttour to visit with deployed troops.
Linebackers Chris Draft and Donnie Edwards joined return specialist/wide receiver Eric Metcalf and former NFL executive and current ESPN analyst Bill Polian on a week-long trip to the Middle East this summer. On a mission to celebrate troops and boost morale, the team visited more than six military work sites.
This tour marked the fifth USO trip for Edwards, who has traveled to five countries since 2007, and the first for Draft, Metcalf and Polian.
Last March, the USO and NFLsent out nine football stars on tourabroad.
Finer Points Are Key for Turner
Michelle Turner has an eye for detail.
The fourth-generation Washington-area native has spent the last 13-plus years of her career with the USO and currently holds the title of senior manager, accounting. But before she was responsible for tracking the USO’s expenditures, she had to learn how to work with nuances of a different kind.
“In order to get my first job running a printing press, I had to reproduce the John Falter print ‘Ice Skating in Central Park’ with exact precision,” said Turner, a lithographer by trade before earning an accounting degree from Strayer University. “This undertaking included everything from shooting the negative, to printing the four-color copy on a printing press. It was the most nerve wracking, challenging and rewarding thing I had ever done, but [it] also prepared me for parenthood and my subsequent career change.”
Turner – who is married with two daughters – broke into the accounting field in 1989 and joined the USO’s accounting team as a contractor a decade later. Her father and two uncles were Vietnam veterans, so she saw the organization’s cause as a natural fit.
And while she’s seen a multitude of positive changes during her tenure at the USO, the one thing she feels has stayed the same is the camaraderie.
“I can truly say that I have never worked with such a great group of people,” she said. “As an organization, we celebrate our triumphs and mourn our losses together the same as any close-knit family would, and that’s an attribute I’ve not experienced anywhere else.”
USO to Dedicate Bethesda Center in honor of Prescott Bush
USO Warrior and Family Centers are built with an eye toward the future, but the center in Bethesda, Md., will also honor the past.
The USO announced it will officially dedicate its next USO Warrior and Family Center in honor of Prescott S. Bush.
Bush, President George H.W. Bush’s father and President George W. Bush’s grandfather, chaired the USO National Campaign during World War II, helping raise $34 million in 1942, his first year at the helm.
The USO Warrior and Family Center at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., is slated to open in spring 2014.
“Dad was totally devoted to supporting the USO and its noble mission … and he would be inspired not only to see how that morally important charge has been carried out to this day – but also to see the energy and thought being so diligently invested in the USO’s future,” President George H.W. Bush, who recently turned 89, said in a statement. “Service was my father’s creed, you might say, and our family is very grateful to know his name will forever be associated with an organization dedicated to ‘duty, honor, country.’ ”
Prescott Bush died in 1972 at age 77 after serving as a field artillery captain in the Army’s American Expeditionary Services branch during World War I, a successful business career and representing Connecticut in the United States Senate from 1952 to 1963.
In more than 16,000 square feet, the Bethesda center will offer USO programming and the latest in technology and learning spaces, along with unique spots dedicated to relaxation, creativity and gaming.
Fireworks at the White House
For the fifth consecutive year, President Barack Obama and his family, with the help of the USO, welcomed military families to the South Lawn of the White House to celebrate the Fourth of July in grand style.
Even on a hot, sticky afternoon, it was tough to beat the atmosphere in the president’s backyard, made even better by a view of the Washington Monument, which would be backdropped by bright fireworks later in the evening.
Obama made brief statements (careful not to get between hungry troops and the chow) to kick off the event, thanking our nation’s servicemen and women for the job they do and the dedication of military families.
“Every day, men and women like them – and like all of you – are carrying forward the ideals that inspired that ‘American Dream’ 237 years ago,” he said. “Defending our nation and our freedoms with strength and with sacrifice is your daily charge. And it’s the charge of all of us – the charge of all who serve worldwide, including our troops that are still in harm’s way and their families back home. They serve, too. And so we think of them, we pray for them.”
As evening settled in, the band “fun.” performed as prelude to the main event: a Washington sky filled with some of the country’s finest fireworks, backed by some of the nation’s proudest anthems.