Helping troops and their families build rewarding and fulfilling lives after military service is critical. In 2013, we helped more than 1,500 transitioning troops translate their military experience into words a civilian employer can appreciate. We also placed troops in meaningful civilian jobs through our partnership with Hire Heroes USA. Through our relationship with the Wyakin Warrior Foundation, the USO offers academic support, a strong mentoring program and additional training and networking opportunities for these troops.
Servicemen and Women aren’t the only ones who feel the stress of frequent and lengthy deployments. Those absences also put tremendous strain on their families and relationships. Working with Stronger Families, your USO provided Oxygen for Your Relationship seminars across the U.S. Also, families who attended seminars with the Aspen Pointe Foundation learned to cope with some of the emotional trauma brought on by frequent deployments.
These are among the 63 USO programs that help create a national continuum of care, made up of concerned individuals who take the time to reach out to returning troops and welcome them back to civilian life.
USO programs directly impact troops and their successful transition to civilian life. Your support makes a huge difference to them and their families as they start the next phase of their lives.
Imagine what it’s like serving at a remote base in Afghanistan. Your only water source may be plastic bottles. Hot meals can be rare.
Worst of all is the feeling of isolation. Does anyone back home know I’m here?
Physical separation doesn’t have to mean emotional separation. USO2GO shipments to the most remote locations in the world let troops there know we care. These shipments – averaging 1 ton each – include important reminders of home, from snacks to sports equipment, laptop computers and DVDs of current movies.
Similarly, the United Through Reading’s Military Program gives troops and families a chance to connect over long distances. Troops are recorded reading a children’s book, which is often sent home, along with the video recording to be enjoyed by the whole family again and again.
The USO’s satellite-based private telephone network, offers expanded Internet connections and free calls home from our centers in Afghanistan and Kuwait.
And, being away from home doesn’t always mean serving in a combat area – or even overseas. Your USO is with troops in Europe, throughout the Pacific and across the United States. Your support makes it possible for troops everywhere to remain connected with loved ones back home.
Our tradition of supporting wounded, ill and injured troops dates back to World War II. Today, the USO continues its support of troops who have been injured on the battlefield. We’re there when they arrive in Germany and we’re with them all the way back home. Many of these troops receive medical care for years. Sometimes their families can be with them, but that’s usually a luxury. We’re there to help a wounded soldier write or email home, or to make certain an injured Marine gets to her physical therapy on time.
The USO Warrior and Family Center at Fort Belvoir, Va., was visited more than 120,000 times last year. This state-of-the-art building provides a place for rest and relaxation. Computers help troops stay connected. Classrooms and therapy space are there for them as they heal with honor in a place that feels like home.
USO Caregivers Conferences provide an opportunity for caregivers to learn from each other and build a support network. Our partnerships with great organizations like Ride2Recovery and U.S. Paralympics provide a chance for more of our wounded, ill and injured troops to participate in life-changing athletic events that instill confidence.
These are just a few examples of what your support meant to troops who were injured as they were protecting our freedoms.
A mother answers a knock on the door at the break of dawn. She sees people in military uniforms and instantly knows she is about to have the worst day of her life.
As she prepares to fly to Dover Air Force Base to witness the dignified return of her son, she has no idea what to expect.
Your support of the USO makes it possible for us to meet her and hundreds of other grieving family members at airports each year as they begin this sad journey. USO staff and volunteers help them through unfamiliar airports and work with airlines to make certain they receive the care and respect they deserve.
When they arrive at Dover, they go to the Families of the Fallen Center, where they can better deal with the emotional roller coaster they’re experiencing. We help them with their journey back home.
The USO has participated in every dignified return at Dover since 1991. We support the families and the military volunteers who participate in this solemn duty. It’s a special honor for us to do so.
We also support the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). Children thrive at TAPS Good Grief Camps across the country, thanks to your ongoing support.