USO On The Frontlines

Thanks To You, We’re By Their Side

As the situation in Eastern Europe continues to unfold, the USO has been hard at work to ensure that American service members in the region, as well as their families back home, feel the care, comfort, and connection they need to stay strong during this stressful time.

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From the Frontlines

  • Deploying service members

    Service members go wherever the call of duty takes them.

  • Connecting to Home

    Our troops reconnect with loved ones while deployed.

  • Reading to Kids Back Home

    A service member enjoys the USO’s Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program.

  • Boosting Morale

    Service members unwind after a hard day’s work.

  • Receiving Reminders of Home

    USO delivers care packages to service members.

  • A Taste of Home

    Deliveries of USO snack packages always bring smiles.

  • Fueling Up

    Hungry service members line up to enjoy a hot USO lunch.

  • Maintaining Momentum

    A group of service members decompress on a USO-made basketball court after a long day.

  • A Vital Lifeline

    A service member calls home with a USO-provided phone.

USO Support in Eastern Europe

Being The Force Behind the Forces

Supporter Update: April 7, 2022

Three highlights from our activities in March:

1. Whether a service member is completing training at a base in Germany or sleeping in a tent under the stars in Poland, the USO has been by their side, giving them the morale boosts they need to fulfill their missions.

Over the past month, the USO opened four new unstaffed locations in Germany and Poland, all of which offer coveted high-speed internet and opportunities to connect with loved ones far away. Further, the USO is operating in support of several Tactical Assembly Areas (TAAs) where troops from the 82nd Airborne Division and other service members are stationed. These remote outposts are in fields, at Polish training facilities, and even in airports. While the troops now have more structured accommodations at these TAAs, they are still far removed from places where they can easily access basic toiletries, foods they know, or other supplies. In fact, due to operational security reasons, soldiers generally cannot venture out past their posts. This is when USO activities, meals, and resources mean the most. After waiting in a long line for a USO-grilled cheeseburger, one service member remarked, “This is a taste of home.”

2. Maintaining close contact with military leadership and building trust with service members, the USO has the unparalleled ability to identify and fulfill requests for support.

USO staff continue to attend daily briefings with regional military commands, coordinating support efforts in concert with troop movements throughout Eastern Europe. Meanwhile, USO staff and volunteers on the ground are embedded with service members, and through daily interaction, learn what they need and want most. At one camp, staff heard that service members wished for basketball equipment to host a bit of friendly competition; in other places, service members requested more books for quiet down time, or high-quality weight training equipment to maintain their level of fitness. In all cases, thanks to the support of our donors, USO staff delivered, and through these trusting relationships with the military, the USO ensures that donor dollars are directed provide resources and activities that are relevant to each unit served.

3. USO centers on bases that have deployed units to Eastern Europe have ramped up programming to support the families awaiting their return.

  • Stateside, USO centers across the Southeast have cooked up special programs to brighten the days of military spouses and youth with deployed oved ones. After 3,800 troops from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division deployed out of Fort Stewart, Georgia, USO staff and volunteers began hosting pop-up lemonade stands in neighborhood playgrounds across the base. Recurring Coffee Connections events offer a safe space for military spouses to find comfort in shared experiences, and next month, a special Month of the Military Child celebration will honor kids with a feast of milk and cookies. All of these events provide something to look forward to

  • Earlier this month, USO centers in Germany, Italy, and England welcomed What to Expect When You’re Expecting author Heidi Murkoff for a series of Special Delivery baby showers for new and expectant mothers, some of whom have partners currently deployed to Eastern Europe. More than just a celebration with lunch, party games, and gifts for the moms, Murkoff says “It’s about bringing moms together so they can become each other’s support system… so they can give each other the sisterhood, solidarity, community they need during a stressful and uncertain time.”

  • Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program (BHLRP) equipment is set up in even the most remote locations in Eastern Europe, offering service members the chance to connect with a young person back home by recording themselves reading a story. But recently, USO centers in Europe have turned this program on its head with what they call “Reverse BHLRP.” Now, military kids can send recordings of themselves reading to parents and relatives deployed to Eastern Europe, proving there is no age limit on being comforted by a story read aloud by someone you love.

Webinar Summary: USO Support for the Crisis in Ukraine

March 4, 2022

Five takeaways from our panel discussion between Christopher Plamp, SVP Operations, Programs and Entertainment; and Grant McCormick, Regional VP, USO Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA):

  1. The USO is a trusted partner to the military and deeply integrated into operations across Europe and on the home front. Weeks before the crisis in Ukraine began, the USO was brought into high-level briefings with military leadership about an escalating need for support in Eastern Europe. USO leadership has been meeting with regional military commands daily to identify areas where the USO can embed resources and fill gaps. In some cases, USO care packages and other resources have been packed directly onto military vehicles shuttling equipment throughout the region. And as more service members deploy overseas, more National Guard units are mobilized to back-fill critical functions on the home front. The USO stays on top of these movements to ensure we are always by their side. Grant McCormick said of regional military leaders, “When they start thinking about how they’re going to provide morale, welfare, recreation, resiliency… they think USO.”

  2. Our global reach enables unparalleled support from the home front to the frontlines. As thousands of troops have been activated to the region—with 7,000 more recently deployed from Fort Stewart, Georgia—USO centers on stateside installations have rallied to equip them for their journeys, and USO airport centers enroute to Eastern Europe stand ready with refreshments. The USO’s recently opened center in Powidz, Poland serves as both a hub for service members to decompress, and the launchpad for an expeditionary vehicle delivering resources to the troops stationed near the Ukrainian border. And for the most remote locations where our troops serve, unmanned USO centers, care packages, and USO2GO kits fill gaps in supplies and morale.

  3. Service members activated to the region are dealing with new challenges than in other recent conflicts, and the USO is ready to meet those needs. Amid persistent winter weather, the climate in Eastern Europe can be frigid and harsh. The USO has delivered thousands of handwarmers, blankets, and other cold-weather gear to keep our service members warm and healthy. Further, to preserve operational security, most service members deployed without their cell phones, and have no way of contacting loved ones back home. USO call centers across the region are continuously crowded, providing lifelines for troops to let their families know they are safe. Grant McCormick described the desperation to call home from deployments during his Air Force career: “I would rather call home than eat.”

  4. For the families that remain stateside, the USO is a stable and comforting presence. USO centers in the U.S. are ramping up programs and events to connect and strengthen military spouses and children through an intensely worrying time. From themed dinners and activity nights that instill excitement and alleviate stress, to Coffee Connections that develop bonds between military spouses, we are heavily investing in programs that boost resilience and morale.

  5. To continue to be where they need us, we need your support. While this crisis is still relatively new, it will shift the landscape for USO support on the continent for years to come. To keep pace with demand, we are exploring building new staffed centers in Germany, Poland, and Romania, and opening more unmanned centers to support American service members in the countries surrounding the Baltic Sea. Though we operate in concert with the U.S. military, the USO is a private, non-profit organization that relies on the generosity of everyday Americans to keep our military service members connected to family, home, and country, wherever they serve.

Thank you to our Partners

Thank you to our partners for helping us keep our service members around the world connected to family, home and country.

  • Wells Fargo National
  • National Football League
  • Marathon Petroleum
  • Giant Food
  • Mitchell and Amy Scott and Collum’s Lumber Products, LLC
  • Washington Commanders
  • Prudential
  • Semper Fi & America’s Fund
  • Duke Energy
  • Raytheon I&S
  • First Trust Portfolios L.P.
  • Biella Foundation
  • Joseph Blady
  • Safeway Eastern Division Foundation
  • Google
  • BAE Systems
  • Juniper Networks

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