By Danielle DeSimone
Although coronavirus health and safety measures have barred entertainers from traveling the world on USO tours these days, that hasn’t stopped a slew of dedicated performers from finding new and creative ways to support the military community during this difficult time.
Utilizing modern technologies like video chats, livestreams and more, singers, actors, artists and others are virtually making a difference in the lives of service members who are serving under tough conditions on the front lines around the world.
That’s exactly why this past week, the Grammy Award-winning musicians, The Chainsmokers, participated in a live USO video Q&A chat with service members deployed to the Middle East.
From Music Festival Stages to Video Chats
In 2018, The Chainsmokers headed on a USO tour to South Carolina and performed an exclusive show for hundreds of Army trainees who would be spending the holidays away from their loved ones. On this week’s virtual tour, the duo, consisting of Alex Pall and Drew Taggart, connected with deployed service members at a time when home perhaps feels even farther away than it does during the holidays.
“I hope all of you guys stay strong and safe out there, it’s a crazy time we’re living in right now,” said Pall, separated from the service members in the Middle East by thousands of miles and a computer screen.
“But you guys are in our hearts and I know you’re in the hearts of a lot of people back here in the U.S. We’re going to continue to try to find ways to give back to you guys and bring you great experiences … We just really admire and have the most respect for you guys and everything you guys are doing. Keep it up.”
Throughout the video call, The Chainsmokers answered questions submitted by service members in real-time, discussing everything from their music-producing process, to the biggest challenges in their career, to the decorations they had hanging on their kitchen walls behind them.
The video chat also gave the performers a chance to give back to a community they truly care about.
“Whether it’s the veterans, or you guys serving abroad right now, I just feel like there’s a lot more that we can do for you guys to make your quality of life better,” Pall said.
“Because you give so much in return to us, to live our lives, travel around the world, have fun and make music. So, it seems only right.”
Improving the Lives of Deployed Service Members in the Middle East
For many deployed service members throughout the Middle East region, the video call was a welcome distraction from the realities of being so far from family and friends during the coronavirus pandemic.
Service members tuned in from several locations and left the special Q&A with new memories:
At Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, the Q&A was a welcome moment of relaxation for units in between long shifts and little time off. The USO Al Asad team set up a livestream of the video call in units’ individual quarters, and it was a great way for them to forget everything going on around them for a bit.
The USO team in Qatar invited a service member who was a big Chainsmokers fan into their office – while adhering to social distancing – to view the Q&A. She was able to watch the duo talk on a large flat screen TV, rather than her cell phone, and they even answered one of her questions.
The service member said that she was so excited that she could barely type out her questions to submit to The Chainsmokers. She had a wonderful time, and the USO team was happy to help boost her morale during these challenging times.
United Arab Emirates
After viewing the Q&A session on her own, a service member, who is also a USO volunteer, came by the USO center in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates to share with the USO team that the duo, “Answered my question and I was so happy!”
The service member was so excited that she called home and shared what had happened with her loved ones, and the USO team loved seeing the USO’s mission come to life. The team was incredibly appreciative that The Chainsmokers were able to help these deployed service members stay connected to home.
Whether they’re entertaining thousands on stage or speaking to only a few service members one-on-one, The Chainsmokers’ dedication to our nation’s military ensures that our deployed men and women in uniform have moments of fun and relaxation, just when they need it most.