Your USO at Work: The Newsletter of the USO (December 2011)

Your USO at Work: The Newsletter of the USO (December 2011)

(Issue 18, December 2011)

Unified Support on Capitol Hill

Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), right, and his wife Carolina help fill care packages. USO photo by Mike Theiler.With more than 170 members and growing, the USO Congressional Caucus strengthens the bridge that supports American troops and military families when they need it most.

Formed in 2003, the caucus aims to enhance the outreach efforts of the American people to troops and military families, providing a critical link between service men and women and their representatives. The caucus brings together members from the Senate and House of Representatives who have a shared interest in supporting our troops and their families around the world.

In addition to co-founders Representative Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) and Representative Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), the caucus is led by Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.) who serves as honorary chair, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), Senator Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Representative Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.) and Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.).

The primary purpose of the caucus is to inform members of Congress of USO activities in their states and districts and how they and their constituents can best support our troops. Special events such as care package assembly parties and coordinated visits to USO centers and hospitals also provide volunteer opportunities for members and staff.

For more information about the USO Congressional Caucus or how to join, please contact Lynly Boor at 703-908-6483 or


Granting their Wish

Want to give, but don’t know what to give? Your problem is solved with the USO Wishbook.

Through the USO Wishbook -- which launched just in time for the holiday season -- your holiday gift to someone special will also benefit our troops and their families.

“The USO Wishbook will give the American public a new and innovative way to support the troops by supporting the USO,” said USO President Sloan Gibson. “The funds from the gifts go directly to the USO, helping us achieve our mission of lifting the spirits of America’s troops and their families.”

Giving has never been easier, with the ability to browse gifts by field (deployed troops, families or wounded warriors), recipients (men, women, kids or coworkers) and price (anything from $15 all the way up to big-ticket items that bring joy to an entire base).

Visit the site today at


It’s All About the People

Heidi BlairHeidi Blair has spent a career running arms of non-profit agencies. But it was the only story her dad would ever tell her about the Vietnam War that landed her at the USO five years ago this month.

“My dad -- a Vietnam vet -- had talked with fondness about the USO when I was growing up,” Blair said. “The possibility of going to work for an organization that made such a huge impact on my father excited me. I felt that working for the USO would be a great way to ensure others had the positive experience my father had during a time that can be very difficult for our troops.”

Blair, the center director for USO Northwest Florida, has spent more than 20 years in leadership roles at non-profits. A Spokane, Washington, native and Gonzaga University graduate, she and her husband had planned on retiring in Florida. Five years ago, they decided to make the move a little early. Blair’s initial task when she joined the USO in 2006 was to build the center at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. She now oversees three centers in that area.

Despite all the responsibility, she says the people who carry out the mission make it easy to come to work even on the hardest days.

“It is the kid who is away from home for the first time eating Thanksgiving dinner at the USO telling me his mom is crying with gratitude because the USO is there for him,” she said. “It is the volunteer who goes to a deployment to hand out USO Care Packages at 2 a.m. because ‘they would do it for me.’ ”


Papa's in our House

Papa John’s kicked off its official yearlong sponsorship of the USO in November by serving up a multitude of deals and donations.

One of the largest pizza companies in the world, Papa John’s is donating $1 to the USO for each purchase of the USO Meal Deal between November 7 and December 31. They also gave $1 for every online order they received at over a 15-hour period on Veterans Day.

But the giving didn’t stop there. Papa John’s also featured the USO in commercials during NBC’s Football Night in America telecasts on November 13 and 20 along with a minute-long promotion on the NFL Network’s first Thursday Night Football game of the season on Nov. 10. The TV appearances highlighted the work the USO does on behalf of our men and women in uniform.


Rise and Honor

The USO was one of six organizations featured on the Veterans Day broadcast of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” titled “Rise and Honor.” The show -- which was coordinated by the Entertainment Industry Foundation and broadcast nationally November 11 -- highlighted some of the most memorable military stories the series has produced. It also called on Americans to pick up the phone and donate to one of six charitable organizations that support the troops, including the USO.

Entertainer George Lopez spoke during the special on behalf of the USO.

Hosted by “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” frontman Ty Pennington and singer Jewel, the program also featured appearances by Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg, and soldier-turned-actor J.R. Martinez.


Striding to Success

With TEAM USO, every step makes a difference.

More than 100 total TEAM USO members participated in this year’s Marine Corps Marathon and New York City Marathon. Combined, they raised $116,000 -- more than double last year’s total. That money will be directed back to each runner’s local USO and will be used to fund vital programs and services for troops and their families.

In return for participating and raising funds, the runners received a variety of benefits, including an Under Armour technical shirt for race day, access to a Road Runners Club of America-certified team coach, and an invitation to attend a complimentary pasta dinner the night before the race.

If you are interested in becoming a member of TEAM USO for the 2012 race season, please visit or email


UPCOMING EVENTS * December 7 is the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. See a story featuring eyewitness accounts of the attack in the Winter issue of On*Patrol, available this month in print and online. * The 112th Army-Navy football game will be played December 10 * December 15 It’s not too late to send a gift to the troops from the USO Wishbook * The Military Bowl, which supports the USO, kicks off December 28 in Washington D.C. * Martin Luther King Day is January 17 * February 4 Happy 71st Anniversary USO! *  


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