Your USO at Work: The Newsletter of the USO (March 2011)
(Issue 13, March 2011)
USO Center Opens in Virginia
IT MAY BE housed in a World War II-era building, but the recently opened USO center at Fort Lee, Virginia is completely 21st Century.
The Ft. Lee USO welcome center opened its doors January 11, to provide a “home away from home” for an estimated 12,000 troops and their families monthly. The 4,000-square-foot center will house a communications room with six computer stations, a room equipped with gaming systems, and a theatre room boasting comfy couches, a flat-screen TV and surround sound. The new center also offers family outreach during times of crisis.
Ft. Lee Garrison Commander Colonel Michael Morrow indicated the center couldn’t have come at a better time. The 2005 federal Base Realignment and Closure Act will nearly double the size of the post making it the Army’s third largest training base. That means Ft. Lee will soon see more than 70,000 soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen, and Coast Guardsmen, and the USO will be there to welcome them.
Ft. Lee is the second center to open in the area. A new USO center opened at the Richmond International Airport in July 2010. The 1,200-square-foot center offers amenities found at other USO locations. ★
* * *
Camp Leatherneck Gets a Touch of Home
TROOPS STATIONED AT -- or passing through -- Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, found a bit of home they may have been missing before the USO opened a new facility. The tent offers an escape from the day-to-day routine through a movie theater, video games, computers, as well as Internet and phone access. It’s also the second USO facility on Camp Leatherneck.
Tim Kerr, Camp Leatherneck’s USO programs coordinator, previously spent 14 months as the duty manager for the USO in Basra, Iraq and said he can help troops by setting up events.
“I’m just glad to be here,” said Kerr. “We’re here until everyone goes home.” The USO currently operates six additional locations in Afghanistan: FOB Fenty, FOB Sharana, FOB Shindand, Kabul, Kandahar, and the Pat Tillman Memorial USO at Bagram Air Force Base. ★
* * *
COUNTRY MUSIC POWERHOUSE Montgomery Gentry recently wrapped up a week-long USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour to Korea and Japan where they where they performed at six military installations. Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry traveled more than 15 hours to the Pacific to bring laughter, good times and a much needed touch of home to more than
8,000 service men and women and their families.
“The more USO tours we go out on, the more appreciation we have for our men and women in uniform and their families,” Troy Gentry said. “This was an amazing trip from start to finish, and we truly had a great time going from place to place visiting and performing for our nation’s troops.”
This was the duo’s second USO tour. ★
* * *
FEW HALFTIME EVENTS can rival the emotional tenor of football games, but an on-field reunion stirred the sellout crowd in Glendale, Arizona, on January 10.
During halftime of the Tostitos BCS national championship game between Auburn University and The University of Oregon, four troops serving in Iraq surprised their families on the field as they were being honored for their sacrifice and dedication.
USO President Sloan Gibson believes events like this one reinforce the USO’s goal of lifting the spirits of America’s troops and their families.
“The USO focuses on bringing our troops a touch of home when they are deployed, but actually coming home to their loved ones is what they look forward to the most,” Gibson said. “We are a proud partner with Tostitos to make these very special reunions possible.”
And Frito-Lay’s Tostitos brand enjoys being a part of what the USO pursues every day.
“The joy people experience when they are reunited with those they care about is universal,” said Justin Lambeth, vice president of marketing for Tostitos. “It was incredible seeing our first big reunion happen at the Tostitos BCS National Championship with help from the USO.” ★
* * *
Sharpe and Tenacious
EVERY WOUNDED WARRIOR entering Landstuhl Regional Medical Center’s USO Warrior Center has a “big sister” in Carol Sharpe.
The Youngstown State University graduate began as an Information Specialist with the center in October 2008 and was promoted to assistant manager the following May.
Her path to this position doesn’t have roots in either position, though. After eight years in the classroom, she left teaching, married Army Major Kevin Sharpe and dove into a master’s degree. When her husband was stationed in Germany, she also threw her efforts into supporting troops through the USO.
“I love coming to work every day,” Sharpe said. “I am a strong believer that laughter is the best medicine. I have been told by several wounded warriors that, ‘You’ve made me forget why I was here.’
“That’s the best compliment anyone can hear in this center,” she added.
Laughter may be good medicine for the warriors, but it’s the warriors who helped her cope when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and her dedication to them never waivered.
She even insisted on coming to work through her chemotherapy treatments.
“Carol’s exceptional ‘big sister’ care of America’s wounded visiting our USO Warrior Center … is the right home-styled medicine of love and caring they need to fully recover,” said Walter Murren, regional vice president of USO Europe. “Continuing to work with those she truly loves would be the absolute medicine she needs to win her own medical battle.”
“This center is the happiest place in the world where the people are family and friends,” she said. “The wounded warriors tell me ‘thank you’ all the time … but it’s them I am thankful for since they have made me feel better while going through the fight of my life,” she added. ★
* * *
THE FIRST FLOOR foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building was a fl urry of activity on February 9, when 18 members of Congress joined USO volunteers for the USO Care Package for Women Stuffing Party. Before filling the 2,000 packages specially designed for female troops, guests also took time to write some words of encouragement to Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) on a flag by troops in Afghanistan constructed from camoufl age material and patches.
The women-specific care packages were designed in response to numerous requests from female troops serving overseas and included cosmetics, moisturizers, and special soaps in addition to the standard phone cards, coffee, reading material, and snacks. ★
* * *
★ April is Month of the Military Child ★ April 6, 1917: The U.S. entered World War I ★ April 23: Happy Birthday Army Reserve! ★ April 30, 1975: The Vietnam War ended ★ May 6: Military Spouse Appreciation Day ★May 16-21: Warrior Games, Colorado Springs, Colorado ★ May 21: Armed Forces Day ★ May 29: Happy Birthday Bob Hope!★ May 30: Memorial Day