By Airman Eric Fisher

The USO was founded in 1941, after a request from President Franklin Roosevelt to help improve morale and recreation for American service members.

With more than 200 locations around the world, the USO has definitely done just that, but in some locations support can still be limited due to remoteness or lack of volunteers.

Those challenges aren’t enough to stop the USO volunteers on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, which opened earlier this year.

“We give the units who are temporarily assigned here a place to go,” said Brittany West, the Eielson USO center operations supervisor. “A place where they can be comfortable and relax, enjoy some free food, and most important to them, internet access.”

Many service members find themselves thousands of miles from their homes and families. They stay in dorms without internet access and it can be difficult to get out and do things in Alaska without a vehicle because everything is so far away. The USO gives them opportunities to enjoy themselves between shifts.

“Any time the USO is open, I take advantage of it,” said Senior Airman Christopher Ballard, a visiting airman with the 80th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron that’s assigned to Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. “The USO has every option you can think of, games, food, internet … It’s convenient and gives you time to unwind after a long day.”

Photo credit Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Eric M. Fisher

Service members watch NFL football at the USO on Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, on Aug. 3. During major exercises, the Eielson USO helps to support service members by opening two additional days a week for dinner.

– This story originally appeared on

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.