Your USO at Work: The Newsletter of the USO (October 2012)
(Issue 23, October 2012)
Schuh Named USO Volunteer of the Year
Army Sergeant Richard Schuh suffered shrapnel wounds to his side and elbow when he was attacked by small arm fire and rocket-propelled grenades. During his recovery, Schuh attended a “smoothie” event hosted by the USO and he instantly knew he had a calling.
The very next day, Schuh—who wanted to give back to those supporting him—headed to the USO to volunteer. During his first week with the USO, he ran a 550 Cuff event by himself, where more than 50 people showed up to make bracelets out of a special type of parachute cord. He took the lead creating and organizing a fantasy football league, promoted and ran United Through Reading projects and recruited other wounded troops to volunteer.
From approximately August 15 through September 3, 2011, he donated a whopping 198 hours to the USO, including many 10 to 12-hour days.
In spite of his wounds, he was always courteous and brought out the best in everyone. Schuh will be formally honored as the 2012 USO Volunteer of the Year at the USO Gala on November 2 in Washington, D.C.
USO Delaware Director Receives National Guard Honor
USO Delaware Director Joan Cote received a career-defining honor this month when she accepted the Patrick Henry Award from the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) for her years of work with troops.
"What a thrill receiving this award was for me and USO Delaware," Cote said. "As you can tell [from the photo] my eyes were filled with tears. … [It was] the proudest moment of my USO career!"
According to the association’s website, the award "is designed to provide recognition to local officials and civic leaders, who in a position of great responsibility distinguished themselves with outstanding and exceptional service to the Armed Forces of the United States, the National Guard or NGAUS."
Cote has been the director of USO Delaware since it opened in March 1991. Her duties include overseeing two centers at Dover Air Force Base, home to Air Force Mortuary Affairs and site of dignified transfers. USO Delaware has supported every dignified transfer at Dover since it opened its doors.
USO Tampa Bay Marks Grand Opening
For two months, a group of 14 disabled veterans rode bicycles, hand cycles and recumbent cycles nearly 4,000 miles through 14 states—from Sea to Shining Sea.
After breaking ground earlier this year, USO Tampa Bay cut the ribbon and opened the doors to its new center on September 6.
"We could not be more excited and proud to finally open the doors to USO Tampa Bay and begin serving our nation’s troops and their families—those who sacrifice so much for our country," said Walt Lamerton, Chairman of USO Tampa Bay, Inc.
USO Tampa Bay now stands ready to serve more than 300,000 troops and military family members that transit each year.
USO Fort Campbell Director Talks Suicide Prevention
As center director of USO Fort Campbell, Kari Burgess-Brown’s interactions with troops give her firsthand knowledge of the lives our military families lead. The following is an excerpt from a blog she wrote during September— National Suicide Prevention Month—about how USO Fort Campbell combats this serious issue.
Every month, I sit in the Suicide Prevention Working Group meeting and we are briefed on all of the suicides since the last meeting. There are two common, underlying stressors in these suicides: troubled relationships and financial hardships. We work hard to build awareness of what USO Fort Campbell already does to help … and we continually explore new ways to make a bigger impact.
Of course, everything we do for active duty and their families is free. … These aren’t giant actions with sweeping benefits, but we’ll save the soldier that likes to go somewhere for that first cup of coffee before work more than $260 a year, which could be an entire car payment. …
To further our impact on stronger relationships at Fort Campbell, we brought a warrior transition battalion couple on a Rivers of Recovery fly fishing trip in Utah. We are also hosting a Stronger Families Oxygen Seminar … [to] help couples better understand each other and improve their communication.
We’ve heard from people all over Fort Campbell that the USO is really a resiliency resource for soldiers and families. … For us, it isn’t about finding the big solution. It is about working every day to deliver goodness so our soldiers and their families know that they are a part of our family, that we love them and that we are here to support them.
Jean-Felix Aristide was born in Haiti in 1973 and spent his childhood "dreaming about far and distant places, running along its sandy beaches, savoring its tropical breeze and exploring the mountains surrounding the capital, Port-au-Prince."
Aristide eventually moved to the United States, where he fulfilled his wish of visiting those distant places by joining the United States Army. During his eight-plus years as a combat medic, Aristide ended up serving in South Korea, Kosovo, Germany and Iraq. After a few more years as a DOD contractor for KBR, he found a home with the USO in January working as a duty manager at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.
"Throughout my military career I was, at one time or another, associated with the USO," he said. "So, the USO became the perfect fit when I wanted to further expand my career at the end of my contract with KBR."
When he's not working, Aristide enjoys reading, travelling, cooking ("more like experimenting in the kitchen with a fire extinguisher nearby," he says) and spending time with his wife, Jennifer, and their two children.
"I love working for the USO," he said. "Make it a pleasure to work for the USO and working for the USO will become a pleasure."
jcpenney Gives Nearly $3 Million to USO
The USO is celebrating a nearly $3 million donation from jcpenney and its customers as part of the retail giant’s new charitable giving campaign called jcp cares. The money will go to USO locations across the country, including two state-of-the-art USO Warrior and Family Centers being built to provide for our nation’s wounded, ill and injured troops.
The program kicked off with a $1 million donation from jcpenney to the USO. Customers were also able to donate by rounding up their purchases to the nearest dollar at jcpenney stores throughout the month of July and donating the difference to the USO. Additionally, one dollar was donated for each customer that checked into a jcpenney store on foursquare the last week of July.
UPCOMING EVENTS* Join Team USO on October 28 at the 37th Marine Corps Marathon * The USO Gala will be November 2 at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C. * Daylight Saving Time ends November 4 * A very happy birthday on November 10 to the United States Marine Corps * Thanksgiving Day is November 22 *