By Staff Sgt. Eric Mann
When service members are deployed, there are not many places that have relaxing couches, football and the smell of fresh waffles all under one roof. But this hidden gem in Turkey is filled with cheering fans and dozens of service members discussing the first thing they’ll do when they get home.
And until then, the USO is their home away from home.
Incirlik’s USO location prides itself on upholding the organization’s honorable mission of strengthening America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country throughout their service to the nation.
“We are a morale-booster and have the ability to connect people back to the states,” said Matt Millen, the USO center manager. “Whether it is through phones, computers, technology or just providing good food and a good environment, our purpose is to make separation easier.”
“I love it! I’m all about serving and giving back. I can’t see myself doing anything else or being happy doing anything else,” added Millen, who is a retired Army field artillery officer. “Some people have their callings – I can help people here who were in my shoes by making it a little bit easier for them.”
Many service members at Incirlik Air Base frequent the USO on a regular basis, whether they’re deployed here or permanent party.
“I can get away at the USO, enjoy snacks and just relax,” said Sgt. Shayla Irtegun, 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron materiel management supervisor. “Incirlik is a restricted environment, so there is a strong need to find a positive means of relaxing.”
Irtegun not only enjoys the amenities the USO offers, but is also a regular volunteer at the location.
“I’m deployed with the 22nd EARS and wanted to volunteer on my deployment to support a cause,” Irtegun said. “I needed to fill my time with a meaningful activity. My volunteering at the USO provides support for regular programs such as Waffle Wednesday and Trivia Night.”
Despite the disadvantage of not being able to solicit volunteers from the civilian, retiree and spouse population, USO Incirlik never has a shortage of volunteers.
“We’re completely run by volunteers. So here, it’s just me and my staff, three civilians. Everything else is run and staffed by service members who volunteer when they aren’t working,” Millen said.
Incirlik Air Base’s USO location is one the busiest locations in the region, providing over 30 events per month, free food, Wi-Fi and amenities to service members, who are always welcome.
This story originally appeared on DVIDS.net in December 2019. It has been edited for USO.org.
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