By Sandi Moynihan

This page was updated on September 14, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. EST.

In the days since Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Southeast Texas coast, the USO has pivoted its expeditionary operations to provide refreshments, relaxation and a touch of home to service members helping the relief efforts.

According to USO Regional Vice President Jeff Hill, the USO plans to support the Texas National Guard until their mission is considered 100 percent complete.

The USO Houston team has opened a temporary center at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base and is providing core USO services like video games, movies, snacks and cold beverages to service members working in the area.

USO Houston has also received an outpouring of support from the local community, including the Houston Astros Foundation, who sponsored dinners at the temporary center for 500 service members last week.

The Houston Texans also made a surprise visit to the USO’S EFJRB location to show their support and gratitude to service members supporting Harvey relief efforts.

USO Mobile Team Responds to Harvey

Hours after Harvey made landfall, the Mobile USO Program staff relocated two of its units to the Houston area to support the military’s Harvey operations. Additionally, a dedicated duo of volunteers drove USO El Paso’s unit over 700 miles to augment the Mobile USO Program’s fleet.

The USO El Paso mobile unit has since made the trip back to Ft. Bliss.

Originally, all three mobile units were positioned at Camp Swift, Texas – the staging area for much of the military’s Harvey operations at the time – before heading various locations like Katy, Beaumont and Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base.

Service members passing through any of these locations were invited to visit the Mobile USO to relax, reconnect and stock up on snacks and hygiene items for the long days ahead.

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Service members smile outside the USO Mobile unit at Fort Swift, the staging location for much of the military’s Harvey relief efforts.

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Service members play games outside the USO Mobile unit.

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The USO Mobile unit at Fort Swift.

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USO Mobile staff stocks its units with additional supplies.

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The USO Mobile staff loads up the mobile units with water.

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Service members sit inside the USO Mobile unit at Fort Swift, the staging location for much of the military’s Harvey relief efforts.

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Volunteers stock the USO El Paso Mobile unit, which will head to the Houston area to provide refreshments to service members supporting Harvey relief efforts.

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Volunteers stock the USO El Paso Mobile unit, which will head to the Houston area to provide refreshments to service members supporting Harvey relief efforts.

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Volunteers smile in front of the USO El Paso Mobile unit, which will head to the Houston area to provide refreshments to service members supporting Harvey relief efforts.

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Snacks sit ready to load into the USO El Paso Mobile unit, which will head to the Houston area to provide refreshments to service members supporting Harvey relief efforts.

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The Mobile USO team hands out snacks and cold beverages to service members at Fort Swift, the staging location for much of the military’s Harvey relief efforts.

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Service members play corn hole provided by the Mobile USO team at Fort Swift, the staging location for much of the military’s Harvey relief efforts.

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The Mobile USO program team hands out snacks and cold beverages to service members at Fort Swift, the staging location for much of the military’s Harvey relief efforts.

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The Mobile USO program team hands out snacks and cold beverages to service members at Fort Swift, the staging location for much of the military’s Harvey relief efforts.

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Mobile USO units gas up in preparation of supporting service members deployed to assist with the Harvey disaster response.

Providing Additional Support

According to Hill, the USO also sent a large number of hygiene kits to U.S. Coast Guard Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Alabama, to be airlifted to service members working out of Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base.

However, given the looming threat of Hurricane Irma and the activation of the Florida National Guard, Hill said some of these care packages have since been re-routed to support service members activated to to assist in the wake of the incoming storm.

USO Georgia volunteers pose by 1,000 hygiene kits they are sending to service members supporting Harvey relief efforts.

Additionally, USO Georgia and USO North Carolina have sent hygiene kits to the USO team working in Texas for distribution among the military members serving in the Houston area.

Other USO locations, like the USO of Missouri, USO Dallas/Fort Worth, USO Gulf Coast, USO Fort Hood and USO San Antonio were on standby, ready to support further USO operations as needed.

Citizens Support Service Members Helping in Wake of Harvey

Private citizens also offered their support for military members assisting with disaster relief, including Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing, also a USO tour veteran, and his wife, Megan, who donated $50,000 to the USO to assist the USO’s efforts.

See his pledge, announced via Twitter, below:

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.