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New USO Camp Marmal Brings Comfort to Afghanistan-Based Troops

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

With her husband away at war, Jaclyn spent Father's Day playing both mom and dad.  That night in Texas, without a spouse to hold or a dad to hug, a family drifted to sleep without its rock.

When Jaclyn heard the USO had opened a new center close to where her husband will spend the next year, suddenly, there was hope.

"Thank you for all you do, USO," Jaclyn posted on the brand new USO Camp Marmal Facebook page.  "I'm sure you'll make this year a little better for him and the rest of our warriors!"

USO Camp Marmal is the newest of seven USO centers in Afghanistan, located in the north, where the giant Hindu Kush and Marmal mountains tower above the war-torn landscape.  The center is near a city called Mazar-e-Sharif, which means "Noble Shrine."  If that sounds familiar, it's because on November 25, 2001, CIA officer Johnny "Mike" Spann became the first American casualty of the war in Afghanistan during a prison riot near the city.

President Obama is announcing another adjustment in U.S. troop levels on June 22.  At this critical hour, almost a decade after the war began, the USO is still passionately supporting our men and women deployed to Afghanistan.  The state-of-the-art USO Camp Marmal facility is a shining beacon of light amid the darkness of war.

"The USO center looks amazing!" Jen posted on Facebook.  "Because of you, wives and families are smiling!"

Jen is right: the center does look amazing, and more troops are now smiling, along with their families back home.  There were long lines of happy warriors at the June 15 USO Camp Marmal ribbon cutting ceremony, as troops filed into the cutting edge facility to find leather couches, HDTV's, computers, a big blue ping pong table, and most importantly, lots of phones to call home.

"Because of you I got to hear from my husband," Thomasina posted.  "Thank you so much!"

USO employees and volunteers in northern Afghanistan know how important it is for our deployed warriors to temporarily relax and have fun, and work tirelessly to put smiles on faces of men and women who put service before self.  From comedy nights to Texas Hold 'Em Poker and pizza parties, USO Camp Marmal is an ideal place for troops to communicate, both with each other and their loved ones. 

"If you need any support from the families back home, please ask," Jaclyn's original Facebook post continued.  "There are many of us who still feel a strong need to take care of our family while they are (over) there!"

Jaclyn and her family are already doing their part during this ongoing war effort. We are the ones who need to do more. 

In addition to generously supporting the USO, so centers like USO Camp Marmal can serve as centerpieces of this unique, unparalleled effort to lift the spirits of our troops, you can "Like" all seven USO Afghanistan center pages on Facebook: USO Camp Marmal, USO FOB Shindand, USO Kandahar, USO Camp Leatherneck, USO FOB Sharana, USO FOB Fenty, and USO Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan.

By clicking "Like" on these pages, your Facebook news feed becomes a virtual window into the war in Afghanistan.  As you follow what our troops, their families, and USO staffers are doing on a daily basis, you can share their stories with your friends, and remind them that we are still a nation at war.

As the post-9/11 conflict in Afghanistan soon enters its eleventh year, we must help families like Jaclyn's, who spend years apart so America can stay together.  The time to unite behind our protectors -- and their loved ones -- is now. -- Tom Sileo, USO Director of Story Development 

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