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Persevering Through Tragedy
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Persevering Through Tragedy

Thursday, September 08, 2011

By Christian Pelusi 

The attacks of 9/11 not only changed America, they also changed the USO. The USO had been in existence for 60 years, but the next 10 years following the events in New York City, Washington D.C. and Shanksville, Pa. would reform the organization in a way that would feature even more ways to lift the spirits of American troops and their families. Soon after the attacks, U.S. servicemen and women would be deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq and with their activation came the need to support them.

The USO understood the sacrifices troops and their families were accepting and sprang to action, creating new programs to support them and eventually creating a department dedicated to creating and maintaining those new initiatives.

Steven Missimer, Vice President of Programs at the USO, is proud of how the department has grown to meet the needs of troops and their families over the past five years, casting a wide net for ideas that may benefit a serviceman or woman who is far from home.

“We’ll talk to troops. Troops will send us emails. Their families will contact us. Twice a year I have an offsite where I get my team together to talk about new program ideas.”

And those program managers reach out to centers across the globe for feedback from center workers and troops about the effectiveness of specific programs.

“We talk with folks in development, where people call into the call center for additional information and those people have ideas,” Missimer said. “We get ideas from the actual field program managers that are out there. We constantly get those ideas and we capture pretty much everything.”

Below is a timeline that illustrates how the USO has mobilized its resources after September 11, 2001, in response to the increased burden placed upon our nation’s military and their loved ones.

  • 2001: Operation Care Package 
  • 2003: Operation Phone Home 
  • 2006: United Through Reading's Military Program 
  • 2006: Mobile USO 
  • 2007: USO/Sesame Workshop 
  • 2008: USO2GO 
  • 2008: Pro vs. GI Joe 
  • 2008: Mobile Entertainment Gaming System (MEGS) 
  • 2010: Extended Support and Programs for Wounded Warriors 
  • 2010: USO Photo Book Program 
  • 2010: "With You All the Way" Program 
  • 2010: Holiday Box Program 


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