By 107th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Even during a global pandemic, the USO is always by the side of service members around the world, including members of the National Guard on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19.
Normally, the USO hosts its no-cost meal program – called “No Dough Dinner” – around supper time for service members and their families. But due to COVID-19, the USO team adjusted the program to take place at lunchtime to meet the needs of Florida National Guard members who are helping in the fight against the coronavirus.
“Obviously with COVID-19, the program can’t continue as was in the past, so we now take it to the road to our troops,” said Mike O’Brien, President and CEO of USO of Greater Jacksonville.
Florida National Guardsmen are currently partnered with the local fire authorities to administer COVID-19 test kits at Jacksonville’s walk-up testing site, located at Bob Hayes Sports Complex and Legends Center. These local, first responders also got to enjoy a free lunch, thanks to the USO.
“Our mission is to keep our military connected to family, home and country,” O’Brien said.
“Anything the USO can do throughout the state of Florida to support the men and women of the National Guard, wherever they may be, honoring our military members with a little chow just to say thank you [is part of our mission].”
This is the second walk-up COVID-19 testing site organized and managed by the National Guard unit who attended the USO’s free lunch. The unit also set up Jacksonville’s first walk-up site at Kooker Park. 1st Lt. Michael Purvis, the commander of the unit, has led his company through the process of planning and establishing both sites. He also oversaw the training and execution.
“The USO is always uplifting for the soldiers,” Purvis said. “I have seen the USO through deployments, through hurricanes, they are always there. It is always amazing to me what they are able to provide.”
-This story originally appeared on DVIDShub.net. It has been edited for USO.org.
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