USO Ladies Nights in Afghanistan Help Female Soldiers Find Their Inner Diva
Thursday, July 03, 2014
By Sandi Moynihan
In the harsh desert environment of Afghanistan, pedicures and paraffin wax are the last two things on hardworking female soldiers’ minds. But for one night each month, women serving in Southwest Asia can channel their inner diva and head to their local USO center for an evening of no-boys-allowed pampering and relaxation.
“Ladies Nights are an important opportunity to let our hard working service women relax and feel feminine again,” said Heather Oliver, USO Programs Coordinator at Forward Operating Base Fenty in Afghanistan. “As any female in a deployed environment will tell you, multi-cam and tan T-shirts are not always conducive to making you feel like a lady.”
Fabulous and Feminine at the USO
While each USO center adds its own creative touch to Ladies Night programing, the evening’s events typically revolve around tasty snacks, much-needed beauty products and a chance to enjoy spa activities like pedicures, foot soaks and paraffin wax hand treatments. The women can also watch chick flicks, make crafts like picture frames or homemade soap and chat with other ladies.
“Ladies Night is important because even though we are fighting a war, it doesn’t mean we don't miss the pampering of getting our nails and toes done every now and then,” said 1st Lt. Tracy Watson, who attends Ladies Nights at USO Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan. “Even though we wear this uniform, first and foremost, we are ladies first and we are thankful that the USO takes the time out to give us a day of pampering, socializing, movies and food.”
Most importantly – according to USO staffers there – Ladies Nights provide deployed women from around the world a safe and welcoming environment to unwind and reconnect with their feminine selves.
An International Girls Club
While the USO programming in Southwest Asia attracts mostly American troops, some USO centers find Ladies Night attracts an international crowd.
“We have British women. We have Romanian women. They were chatting. And people from different branches. It’s kind of like a girls club where you make friends, too,” said Ann Marguerite Silva, Duty Manager at USO Kandahar.
In fact, some American service women who have enjoyed previous Ladies Nights invite other international military women to join them the next time.
“Myself and friend — both U.S. Army nurses — invited our British cohorts … to our ladies night,” said Capt. Michelle L. Grant. “Boy, did they have a blast! They were so appreciative and couldn’t stop thanking us all evening and all the next day for treating them to a night out of fun and relaxation.”
A Day Makes the Difference
Although USO Ladies Nights can only be offered once a month, many of the volunteers and USO employees who attend and help organize the evening can’t wait to plan each months events and look forward to brainstorming fun and exciting programming for the night of girls-only fun.
“I’m proud that we have Ladies Night,” said Staff Sgt. Rada Kalpee, who volunteers at Ladies Nights at USO Kandahar in Afghanistan. “You can see a huge difference on the female soldiers’ faces, because we have a moment to ourselves.”
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