USO’s Military Family Programs
The USO has been lifting the spirits of troops and military families for more than 70 years. While this mission has not changed, the USO has continually adapted to meet the changing needs of our troops. In today’s active duty force, 56% of our troops are married, while 44 % have children. As a result, the USO has many programs designed specifically to benefit military families.
USO Photo Book Program – Through a partnership with RocketLife LLC, families can upload up to 60 photos and create a personal soft cover photo book small enough to fit in a cargo pants pocket. These 20-page albums warm the hearts of our troops and keep them connected to husbands, wives, parents, children and friends. their lives back home.
With You All The Way – USO partners with the Trevor Romain Foundation to promote self- confidence and academic achievement in military children six to 18 years old. Using innovative, inspiring and humorous stories, Trevor has spoken with thousands of children about the difficulties of deployment during his many USO tours. He has created DVDs, journals, resource books and other materials to help families cope with deployment, reintegration, and what happens when a parent returns from combat with wounds, both seen and unseen.
Operation Phone Home® – Operation Phone Home® is one of the most popular services we provide to deployed troops. At our centers in combat zones, the USO provides a private phone network for troops to make free phone calls home, access to computers with free high speed internet bandwidth to connectwith friends and family, as well as free wireless Internet for troops with their own computers. For troops serving in remote areas without access to our centers, the USO provides free international pre-paid calling cards. In 2011, the USO shipped phone cards to more than 250 locations around the globe. To date the USO has provided nearly 3 million free pre-paid international calling cards to troops stationed overseas.
United Through Reading’s Military Program – USO and United Through Reading® joined forces in 2006 to connect deployed troops to their children back home. Troops can read to their children while being recorded, as if they were in the same room together, even from a small base in Afghanistan The USO mails the DVD recording and book home so children can watch Mom or Dad and listen to their loving voice at bedtime, naptimeor just anytime. Families then complete the United Through Reading® Circle of Communication by sending back a touch of home – a photo of the child watching their deployed Mom or Dad reading the book. Since the program’s inception, the USO has shipped more 200,000 recordings.
Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families – Now in its sixth year, Sesame’s “Talk, Listen, Connect” outreach initiative includes kits with a DVD and other resources which serve as tools for military parents and caregivers to talk to children facing the complex issues associated with military life. Bringing the magic of “Talk, Listen, Connect” to life, Elmoand his friendKatie, a military child, perform at military bases worldwide.
The USO exists to lift the spirits of both our troops and their families. For more information on USO programs, visit http://www.uso.org/programs -Joseph P. Scannell, New Media Intern