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 a service member who has had to opportunity to see the USO in action both at home and overseas, I don’t think that I can ever speak (or write) enough to emphasize the importance and selflessness of the USO and all of its volunteers.
I recall the comfort and sense of home and community that the USO was able to provide to myself and fellow soldiers. Because of this, I find that it is vital for veterans to engage themselves in their local USOs to help out.
This serves two purposes: it gives back to the organization that gives so much in the way of service to our military family and it helps create bonds between the organization and its clients. To be able to walk into a USO and see that there are people there who can connect with you, joke around and share the same common bonds is a wonderful feeling. It also helps the families, who may be separated from their loved ones due to training, deployments or a number of other reasons. They can sit down and chat with volunteers about places that they may both have lived, restaurants and vacation spots they have shared, and it can really drive home that bond and that sense that no matter where they are, the USO stands ready to serve them.
Finally—and perhaps most important—is the sheer power that veterans bring to the USO in their words, their commitment and their actions. I think if you asked around, you would find that there are no better spokesmen for the USO than our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and members of the U.S. Coast Guard. These men and women know firsthand the comfort and the countless efforts made day in and day out by USO volunteers worldwide to bring some joy to their lives and the lives of their families. Because of this, they can perfectly and succinctly explain to an interested party just how beneficial they could be by volunteering with the USO. And just like that, you have yourself another fantastic and energized volunteer!
—Army Capt. Martin Van der Hoek USO South Carolina Volunteer
More from the USO
Nov 16, 2016
‘You Just Feel at Peace’: How USO North Carolina - Jacksonville’s Beirut Room Serves as a Space for Reflection and Healing
In light of the deep impact the 1983 Beirut bombing had on the Jacksonville community over the years, the USO center, with help from Lowe’s Home Improvement, created a special room in its center to honor the victims, survivors and family members affected by the bombing. The space – known as the “Beirut Room” by center staff and volunteers – features a granite wall monument, stained glass angels and several other photos and mementos memorializing those killed in the bombing.
Nov 16, 2016
USO Opens Wellness Focused Center on Joint Base San Antonio
After 75 years of welcoming service members home, the USO received a homecoming of its own. After a grand opening ceremony on Nov. 10, USO San Antonio staff and volunteers officially welcomed guests into the new, state-of-the-art USO San Antonio center on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.