Joseph Andrew Lee
Service members stationed at U.S. Army Garrison Schofield Barracks on the Hawaiian island of Oahu now have a new place to stay connected to family, home and country.
A brand-new, 2,500 square-foot center is now open for business next to the lower enlisted quarters of the 25th Infantry Division, where it can provide the best connection to those who need it most. Clifton Clevenger, an Army veteran and former post commander of John Lyon VFW Post 3150 in Arlington, Virginia, joined the USO as the center manager at Schofield Barracks in August.
“I can’t even explain how excited I am to come back to this community,” said Clevenger, who spent the last four years of his 10-year military career at Schofield Barracks. “I know what it’s like to be a soldier here, so I understand the needs of this community and I’m just completely overjoyed to be back here to serve this community as a part of the USO.”
Clevenger described Schofield Barracks as unique when compared to the numerous military bases in the state. Unlike many of the other installations nestled along Hawaii’s beautiful coastline, Schofield is located in the middle of the island, surrounded by mountains and dense vegetation. The tenants on the installation are also unique.
“Hawaii is beautiful,” Clevenger added, “but Schofield Barracks is home to the infantry. It takes as long and costs as much for a soldier to fly back home from here as it does if they were in say, Okinawa or Korea or Japan.“
Troops are also a little farther away from a lot of the amenities that other bases are closer to, Clevenger said. The population doesn’t have as much free time to enjoy those amenities as other units on the island might, so it’s very important to be here where they are.
“If you’re a brand-new, 19-year-old soldier,” illustrated Clevenger, “and it’s your first time away from home and you come to Schofield Barracks – you don’t know anybody – when you walk into the USO we want to give you that sense of belonging and that sense that you can relax and make yourself at home and maybe you’ll meet some of your first new friends here.”
As for the programs and services to be offered by the new center, Clevenger said that in addition to supporting the USO’s national-level programs, he would be listening closely to the local community that walks through his door.
"The USO has many so programs and services designed to support a variety of military [and] family needs and I trust this community to tell me what it needs beyond that.”