By Kayla Clark
This is the face of a military supporter.
Meet Carol Hulbert: U.S. Navy veteran, prior military spouse (now the spouse of a veteran), U.S. Navy mother, prior military child and proud USO volunteer. If all that doesn’t scream red, white and blue, then we certainly don’t know what does!
When people in the Rota, Spain, U.S. military community think about the USO, one of the first people they think of is Carol. For years, Carol was one of the most recognizable faces of the organization throughout Rota and even with her transition back to the U.S. a few months ago, her legacy continues.
From the moment the center first opened its doors back in 2017, Carol was there. She loved helping the USO in any way she could. From assisting service members during their layover in the center, to hosting and facilitating monthly bingo nights with the deployed Navy Construction Battalion (also known as “Seabees”), to hosting early mornings on Navy destroyers by serving up hot coffee and smiles to sailors as they came on board to start their day.
When asked why she enjoys volunteering, Carol shared,
To see a smile on their face or hear a ‘thank you’ for just the smallest thing; it is just the best part of being there for them. I enjoy putting a little laughter in their day, especially when they are so far from family and friends.
From a young age, Carol understood the sacrifice that our service men and women make. Her father served in World War II, so she was raised to support our military. Fast forward years later, and Carol herself enlisted in the Navy.
She was first stationed at NAS Bermuda (what a duty station, we know!) and then went to what is now NAS Oceana Dam Neck Annex, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. There, she met her husband, Scott, and they continued their life of military service as she supported him as a proud military spouse for the next 15 years of his career. After retiring, Scott was able to continue his passion for serving the military community by accepting a job in the civilian sector, bringing them to Rota, Spain.
Carol also happens to be the mother to a Navy sailor, so she truly understands many of the realities of serving in today’s military. When she sees service members come through on their way downrange, to their next deployment or on their way home, Carol has the intense yearning for them to be connected to their family, home and country. Our USO mission. And Carol’s personal charge.
“The USO is an organization that I am so proud to volunteer for. All they do to support all of our military and their families is so important and is something that is very close to my heart…I remember when our Vietnam veterans came back home and the disgusting way they were treated. I’ve made many friends who served over there and it [the USO] always made them feel just a little bit prouder that someone cared.”
She never wants our military to feel unsupported ever again.
Over the course of the past few years, Carol has volunteered almost 700 total hours with USO Rota. She has assisted with the grand opening of the center and hundreds of events including family trivia nights, bunco game nights, Seabee bingo events, Seabee birthday celebrations, ship snack attacks, holiday ration drops – in costume, mind you – and a huge Marine water balloon fight. She has also helped to on board and train new volunteers as well as assist with many of the “Patriot Express” flights coming from the U.S. through Europe and back.
When asked what her favorite memory was during her time here in Spain, she shared, “It would be hard for me to pick a favorite memory because I truly enjoyed doing it all. USO Rota has a group of staff members that are hard to beat. They really put themselves out there and do so many wonderful things for our service members and are just the best people to volunteer for!”
While Carol has since moved back to the U.S., she is excited for the opportunity to get back into action and get involved with her new USO center in Virginia. She truly is a gem and the epitome of a proud military supporter.
Every day, America’s service members selflessly put their lives on the line to keep us safe and free. Please take a moment to let our troops know how much we appreciate their service and sacrifice.