Losing a parent can be devastating.
But losing a parent while on military duty adds a new set of obstacles that can overwhelm the most prepared soldier. Army Spc. Austin Hunsinger knows this all too well.
In December 2012, after learning his father suddenly passed way, Hunsinger – who was stationed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina – had to juggle an emergency leave request, funeral arrangements and booking last-minute flights all in a matter of hours.
When he finally arrived at the airport to go back to Rochester, New York, he was exhausted. He'd been up all night speaking with his family. So he sat down in the airport, fell asleep and missed his flight.
When Hunsinger woke up and realized what had happened, he knew he needed help fast. He headed straight to the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport USO. A little shaken up and worried he wouldn’t be able to get another flight in time for the funeral, Hunsinger explained what happened to the USO staff.
“The USO is always there and they’re always the first people I go to when I’m traveling,” Hunsinger said.
Within a matter of minutes, a USO volunteer helped Hunsinger re-book his flight to Rochester, getting him home just in time for his father’s services the next day.
“That was a really hectic time for me and [the USO] just relieved the stress at the right point,” Hunsinger said.
“[The USO had] perfect timing, for them to be there and for them to help me get a flight and to provide me with a place to rest my head [was great].”
USO Fort Drum‘s Allen Jones contributed to this story.
You can send a message of support and thanks directly to service members via the USO’s Campaign to Connect. Your messages will appear on screens at USO locations around the world.