Elizabeth Vallette’s first experience with the USO wasn’t exactly life-changing, but it lifted the spirits of a cash-poor West Point cadet making her way through an airport en route to a training assignment.
“Another cadet came running … up the terminal at us, screaming ‘Free hot dogs at the USO,’” Vallette said.
Later, during a 12-month deployment to Iraq with III Corps in 2004, the USO brought comedian Robin Williams to her base in Baghdad. “His show was perfect timing,” Vallette said. “It was just sinking in that things were not going well. We really needed the pick-me-up, and he delivered.”
After leaving the Army, Vallette spent time as an MBA student at the University of Houston and worked for a Canadian nonprofit in Kabul, Afghanistan.
When the project ended, she saw a job listing for a center director at USO Houston.“It hadn’t ever really occurred to me that you could actually work for the USO … and get paid,” she said.
Since July 2011, she has led a team that serves nearly 35,000 troops and family members with the help of a team of 400 volunteers.
Anyone who wants a taste of Vallette’s Houston hospitality should check out the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo’s World’s Championship in February and checkout the USO’s entry in the bar-b-cue contest. - Derek Turner, USO Sr. Editor
More from the USO
Jun 20, 2017
USO Yokosuka Pivots to Provide Military Families with 24-Hour Support After USS Fitzgerald Crash
When the USO Yokosuka staff first heard about the early-morning USS Fitzgerald crash on June 17 they didn’t know what type of support they would be asked to provide. Nonetheless, they and their volunteers were ready for the call.
Jun 17, 2017
How One Deployed Dad Uses the USO-Hosted United Through Reading Program to Connect with his Daughters
Before he was sent to South Korea, Army Maj. Patrick Caukin would read two his two young daughters every day. But when Caukin got word he’d be heading to Camp Walker for a yearlong unaccompanied tour, he wondered if he’d have to miss out on story time with his daughters.
Jun 17, 2017
Rank Not a Motivating Factor for Two-Star General
Major General Marion Garcia is the commanding general of the 200th Military Police Command, within the U.S. Army Reserve, where she is responsible for 14,000 soldiers spread among four brigades, three criminal investigation battalions, with units located across 36 states.