It’s the USO’s 76th anniversary and there are 1.4 million reasons to celebrate!

Nearly a million Americans joined our Campaign to Connect by sending 1.4 million messages of support to our military – one for every active-duty service member. We met our ambitious goal and it’s all thanks to the Force Behind the Forces – the legion of USO volunteers, USO tour veterans, corporate partners and everyday Americans who shared in our global mission to strengthen our military by keeping them connected to family, home and country.

This is a shared success we can all celebrate for a moment, but we’re not done collecting messages. You can still go to USO.org/messages to connect with our men and women in uniform and let them know America stands by them as they defend our nation.

While our anniversary is a day to get excited for what comes next, it is also an opportunity to look back at the immense success the USO experienced in its 75th year.

You already know nearly a million people joined The Force by sending 1.4 million messages of support to our service members. Celebrities of all kinds – actors, athletes, musicians and others – connected with our military members all around the world on USO tours. Our program partners helped us break new ground in the area of military transition and corporate partners exceeded our $7.5 million challenge and helped the USO open or renovate 30 locations around the world.

Millions watched the PBS documentary, “USO – For The Troops,” and saw “The Next Mission,” a collaboration between the USO and Roadtrip Nation that chronicled three transitioning service members as they tried to find their purpose in the civilian world.

It was a milestone year and our story development team captured most of it on video.

USO Route 75 traveled the country tracking down emotional, inspiring and fun USO stories we captured at our centers across the United States. Service members, USO volunteers, military spouses and others welcomed us with open arms and shared their stories. Sitting in front of a camera and answering questions isn’t easy for most people, but the amazing individuals we met wanted to do it to support the USO and our men and women in uniform.

People like that are the definition of the Force Behind the Force: everyday Americans who donate their time, money and energy to make sure our men and women in uniform are never left without a connection to things that keep them strong – family, home and country.

The USO story development team’s task is to capture the individual faces behind the force and amplify their voices so you can hear them loud and clear. And that’s exactly what we plan to do. We’ll always populate USO.org with great videos, photos and stories, but you can also find our unique, innovative storytelling on a number of social media platforms.

#BeTheForce by following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and Google+ and sharing your personal USO stories with us via email at stories@uso.org.

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.