By Chuck Hoffheiser

I’m a career civilian, like a lot of you.

A couple of years ago, I wore my USO T-shirt to a Houston Astros game. Someone stopped me and said, “Thank you, sir.”

I turned to see a man holding his young son by the hand. He said he was active duty, leaving soon for Afghanistan. He told me how much the USO meant to him and his buddies serving far from home.

I’ll never forget it. This man getting ready to go to Afghanistan was thanking me.

We don’t always get to see how much our support can mean to the men and women who leave their families to serve, but now I know it’s a whole lot.

So whether you wear it to a game or a neighborhood cookout, I hope you’ll visit USO.org/t-shirt by May 25 to get your 2017 USO Fourth of July T-shirt in time for Independence Day. The Kroger Co. will match all gifts – up to $250,000 – to help the USO keep service members connected to their homes and loved ones. These shirts are going fast, so give now to be sure you get yours.

Small-town parades. Apple pie and ice cream. Fourth of July fireworks. These are American traditions we cherish on our nation’s birthday and throughout the year and it’s the brave men and women of our military who make them possible.

I can tell you from experience that wearing a USO Fourth of July T-Shirt is one of the simplest things you can do to show our support for our service members and military families.

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.