[caption id=“attachment_12311” align=“alignleft” width=“750”]Country music star and USO tour veteran Hunter Hayes wasted no time making Every Moment Count for his fans at an Oct. 28 concert at Best Buy Theater in New York. USO photo Country music star and USO tour veteran Hunter Hayes wasted no time making Every Moment Count for his fans at an Oct. 28 concert at Best Buy Theater in New York. USO photo by Matthew Ziegler[/caption]

After Creating 11 Million Moments, USO Teams Up With Country Star Hunter Hayes to Support More Troops and Families

Veterans Day marked the one-year anniversary of the USO’s Every Moment Counts campaign, our national initiative to rally Americans to show their gratitude for the everyday moments that our troops and their families miss.

In the campaign’s first year, nearly 11 million special moments were created for our troops and their families across the world.

Hunter Hayes, a CMA Award-winning musician and four-time Grammy Award nominee, is helping the USO take Every Moment Counts to new heights in year two. Hayes, who partnered with the USO in September, created special moments for troops and their families at each of the 17 stops on his Tattoo (Your Name) Tour this fall.

“Every Moment Counts – I love those three words,” said Hayes, who also played USO shows for troops in Virginia and the United Kingdom. “I love that that’s what our current focus is. And the message is the fact that they give so much for us … we never want to take it for granted.”

Counting center visits, entertainment events and program activities, the USO creates about 30,000 moments for troops and their families each day, allowing the USO to create nearly 11 million moments a year.

Go to USO.org/donate today to help the USO create more moments for troops and their families.

Trace Adkins Rocks USO/PenFed Concert at Fort Hood

Country music star and nine-time USO tour veteran Trace Adkins teamed up with country music newcomer Casey James to perform for the Fort Hood, Texas, community at a free concert in November.

[caption id=“attachment_12315” align=“alignleft” width=“438”]Trace Adkins performs for thousands of troops and their families at a concert at Fort Hood, Texas, on November 1. USO photo by Fred Greaves Trace Adkins performs for thousands of troops and their families at a concert at Fort Hood, Texas, on Nov. 1. USO photo by Fred Greaves[/caption]

“It’s hard to explain what the feeling is like when you perform for the military audiences but, I’ve tried to tell people before that after you get off the stage you feel a little guilty because you feel like they gave you more than you gave them,” Adkins said. “It’s something that I’ve learned to deal with over the years but it’s never really gone away. It always feels like that.”

The concert, sponsored by the USO, Fort Hood MWR and Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed), featured nearly three hours of star-studded entertainment at Fort Hood Stadium. PenFed donated $100,000 to the USO to help fund the costs of the concert.

James Schenck, president and CEO of Pentagon Federal Credit Union, said the show “was PenFed’s way of saying thank you to the service members who served and the families who support them.” For Caregivers of Wounded Troops, Sharing Isn’t Always Easy

When Virginia Peacock’s husband, David, meets another wounded combat veteran, he asks them where they were medevaced from because he might have been the combat flight medic taking care of them.

Now, Virginia’s the one taking care of David.

[caption id=“attachment_12316” align=“alignright” width=“300”]Virginia Peacock laughs during a presentation at the USO Caregivers Conference in Fayetteville, North Carolina, last month. USO photo by Eric Brandner Virginia Peacock laughs during a presentation at the USO Caregivers Conference in Fayetteville, North Carolina, last month. USO photo by Eric Brandner[/caption]

Peacock led a breakout session at the USO Caregivers Conference in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where she and other caregivers of wounded, ill and injured service members swapped experiences in November. Peacock, who advocates for caregivers’ rights and recognition, reminded her peers how powerful sharing stories can be.

“The one thing that we are all really bad at is telling our own story,” she said.

The latest chapter in Peacock’s story is in its seventh year. As a registered nurse, she had a career she loved when David was injured on his 11th deployment. His severe shoulder problems were the only aliments that stood out at first. After a while, invisible wounds started surfacing, too.

Virginia tried to keep home life status quo, continuing her full-time nursing career while also caring for a wounded husband and a young son. But with so many new challenges, her own cloud of depression set in.

She left that job and started rebuilding her family life. Now in a much better place – and back to work as a pediatric nurse – she is sharing resiliency lessons with other caregivers and raising awareness for their cause. Additionally, Peacock teaches caregivers how to share their stories effectively.

“You’ve got to find your person who gets it [to share your stories with],” she said.


USO/Project Sanctuary Retreat Helps Couple Find New Ways to Deal with PTSD

Conrad DeGrace knew something wasn’t right. It just took him a long time to make the connection.

Earlier this year, DeGrace and his wife, Trish, sat on a deck overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and candidly discussed the repercussions of Conrad’s post-traumatic stress and major depressive disorders. The invisible wounds drove him to the brink of suicide during his 2007-08 Iraq deployment.

The issues led to his medical retirement from the Army, but they didn’t subside after his reintegration into civilian life. The DeGraces have since turned to programs including the USO/Project Sanctuary retreat that helped them reach a better understanding of how his post-deployment issues affect their daily lives.

“I always thought of myself as a very strong person,” said Trish, who acts as Conrad’s caregiver. “And no matter what I did, it wasn’t about what I was doing, or how much I loved him, it was about ‘I can’t connect with him the way he needs to be connected.’”

Through a USO grant, the DeGraces attended a USO/Project Sanctuary retreat last year in Colorado. There, they and other military couples attended programs, sought out counseling and unplugged from the stresses of everyday life in order to discover new approaches to their post-deployment realities.

BNSF Wants to Match Your Donation to the USO

BNSF Railway Foundation has made it easy to double your donation to the USO this holiday season.

BNSFThe company, one of our valued President’s Circle partners, is offering to match every donation to the USO, dollar-for-dollar, up to $250,000. The opportunity to make your gift go twice as far to support our troops is exceptional. With your help, we can ensure every penny of your gift is used to support our troops and their families.

Our troops count on the USO and we’re counting on you. Donate today and your tax-deductible holiday gift to the troops will be matched by BNSF.

Visit Bass Pro Shops and Support the USO at the Same Time

Bass Pro Shops, the leading retailer of hunting, fishing, camping and other outdoor equipment, is once again showing its support for men and women in uniform.

BassFrom Veterans Day to Dec. 31, Bass Pro Shops stores throughout the U.S. will offer customers an opportunity to donate $1, $3 or $5 to the USO at checkout.

“For many of our troops serving far from home, it’s the small moments they miss most,” said USO Vice President of Corporate Alliances Christy Hartsell. “Customer donations at Bass Pro Shops will support our USO2GO program, which allows us to give the comforts of home to troops in remote areas.

“We’re grateful to committed partners like Bass Pro Shops who help support our nation’s military community and show them genuine appreciation for their service.”

Support the USO by visiting your nearest Bass Pro Shops and donating at checkout before time runs out!

Retired Soldier Helps USO Fulfill its Mission in Italy

For retired Army Sgt. Maj. Glenn Gibbs, the joy he found in selflessly serving his country followed him into his career with the USO.

[caption id=“attachment_12314” align=“alignright” width=“239”]USO Vicenza Center Manager Glenn Gibbs uses his position to help troops take advantage othe USO’s services and programs. Courtesy photo USO Vicenza Center Manager Glenn Gibbs uses his position to help troops take advantage of the USO’s services and programs. Courtesy photo[/caption]

“The USO is successful because of what we do, not me do,” said Gibbs, a North Carolina native. “With the countless volunteers and numerous volunteer hours, we are able to touch the hearts of service members and their families worldwide.”

His USO career was ignited through volunteer work as a handyman for the local center in Vicenza, Italy. In 2009, Gibbs just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

“I happened to be there the evening the USO Europe regional vice president was there and he asked if I was interested in a job,” Gibbs said. “The paperwork was started that evening.”

As a soldier for more than 31 years, he had never used the USO or its resources. Now as center manager, he is using his position to help current service members take advantage of the amenities the USO provides.

“I make a conscious effort to educate the patrons that come through the center on all the USO does for service members worldwide,” he said. “I like to believe I am a breathing example of the USO’s values.”