To mark Veterans Day, we asked some of our volunteers who have served in America’s armed forces to share why they give their time to today’s troops by helping the USO. Here is one of their stories.
As an 18 year old who was new to the Air Force, I remember my first trip back home to see my parents. This was an East Coast to West Coast trip. Like most of us traveling, I got delayed when changing aircraft and was stuck at a major airport for several hours. What was I supposed to do?
New at traveling and on a strict budget, I wandered around the airport. As I passed a room in the terminal with a sign over the doorway reading “USO,” I remembered hearing about how the organization supported troops and their families and I decided that I needed to check the place out.
When I entered the room I was met by two of the nicest people. Both the man and woman were senior in years, but what smiles they had. They asked me what branch of service I was in, where I was from and where was I going. They made me feel right at home.
Even better, they gave me free cookies and soda. I say again: free cookies and soda! I was escorted to a place where I could sit and watch a movie while waiting for my flight. I kept thinking to myself “Is this how VIPs travel?” The time flew by and, before I knew it, it was time to depart. The two USO volunteers said goodbye with a smile and thanked me for my service. How nice.
I couldn’t wait to tell my parents back in Oregon about my trip, especially the USO. My dad, a retired Marine, explained to me that the USO is everywhere and there to support us troops and our families. In my 28 years of active duty, I got the privilege to travel everywhere, some fun places and some not-so-fun places. The one constant to all my travels was the USO. My dad was right: they are everywhere.
While on active duty, I did my share of volunteer work from squadron booster clubs to fundraisers. After I retired, I became so wrapped up in establishing my new career that I had no time to spare. But after my first few years of military retirement, I found myself longing for an opportunity to get involved—to volunteer for something worthy and give back a little of the blessings I have received. My first thought was of those two people at the airport USO lounge those many years ago and how welcome they made me feel. What better thing to do than to volunteer with the USO, an organization dedicated to supporting our troops and their families?
I have been blessed to work with an awesome group of USO volunteers, all of whom are always looking for how can we better support our troops and their families. As I volunteer for events or at the USO lounge at the Dover Air Force Base passenger terminal, I am taken back by all the stories I hear from the troops, their families, the retirees and the other volunteers. I couldn’t imagine not giving some of my personal time to support such a great organization.
—Ron Collins USO Delaware volunteer
More from the USO
Nov 22, 2017
NFL Game Pass Connects Troops in Kuwait to the Teams They Love
Troops will stay up all night long to watch their favorite NFL teams play, and the USO stays up with them. At Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, NFL Game Pass brings every game to the USO and it's the perfect touch of home for the military population living there.
Nov 19, 2017
Football Legend Joe Theismann Sends Heartfelt Thank You Message to American Troops
We caught up with Washington Redskins legend Joe Theismann at the USO Warrior and Family Center at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, recently and he had some motivating words for our men and women in uniform.
Nov 19, 2017
Combat Cooking with USO Camp Arifjan: Volunteer Jamie's Lasagna Roll-Ups
With Thanksgiving a few days away, we’re kicking off our Combat Cooking series with this tasty lasagna roll-up recipe created by USO Camp Arifjan volunteer Army Sgt. Jamie Reed. Reed, who hails from Oregon, but is stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., frequently volunteers her culinary skills at USO Camp Arifjan in Kuwait.