How the USO and Celebrities Teamed Up to Support Military Moms Through Entertainment

By Danielle DeSimone

Life in the military comes with its challenges and opportunities, and no statement could be truer for military moms. Whether they be service members or military spouses, military moms of all backgrounds and branches know how to thrive no matter where in the world their service takes them.

Still, supporting these mothers is crucial. That’s why, over the past year, the USO has teamed up with celebrity guests, many of whom are mothers, to host virtual events that celebrate military moms and remind them that they are never alone. Here’s a roundup of some of our favorite moments from these virtual events:

1. Kristen Bell explains her approach to resiliency while parenting during a global pandemic.

Kristen Bell, actress, singer, producer and star of Hollywood hits like “Veronica Mars,” “Gossip Girl” and Disney’s “Frozen” took the time to speak directly with military spouses dialing in from all around the world via video calls as part of the USO MVP Series – a series of virtual, streamed events in which service members get to speak directly to entertainers through a computer or phone screen and discuss everything from deployments to what it’s like on a movie set.

When discussing resiliency and the importance of resiliency among military spouses, Bell emphasized how she has been trying to see the silver lining in all of the restrictions, quarantines and stay-at-home orders of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bell’s personal silver lining was being able to spend more time with her husband and two daughters – often involving dance parties.

“I’ve really gotten to know my family in a different way,” she said.

Throughout the conversation, Bell also spoke one-on-one with military spouses and commiserated with them about the struggles of adjusting their parenting throughout the pandemic, and even offered personal advice to fellow parents.

2. Hoda Kotb speaks about optimism in the face of the unique challenges of military life.

As the co-anchor on the “Today Show,” Hoda Kotb can often be found on the television screens of American households all around the country every morning. However, this past year, military spouses and military moms got to see Kotb’s face on their computer and phone screens as they chatted with her directly.

As Kotb discussed the joys and challenges of motherhood, adoption and family life, she also provided participants with a behind-the-scenes look at her dressing room on-set of the “Today Show,” where she was calling from. However, throughout the call, the main focus of discussion was resiliency and optimism.

Kotb shared her own methods and approaches to life, including simple things such as how she makes her home a “sanctuary” for herself and her family – and how important that has been throughout the pandemic.

“[As moms] we can’t control what happens when our loved ones walk out the door, but when they’re in our place, we can make it the perfect spot for them to feel safe and loved,” Kotb said. “And I know that’s what you guys do, and that’s what I hope to do.”

Kotb also acknowledged the unique challenges military spouses and moms must tackle during their time in the military, and how grateful she is for the sacrifices they and their families make every day.

“I don’t even know how to put it into words. Just … thank you,” Kotb said. “It’s a privilege and an honor for me to be sitting here … and but there are millions of people thinking about you and cheering you on every single day.”

3. Samantha Busch discusses starting over in a new home and the challenges of infertility.

Samantha Busch, author of “Fighting Infertility,” joined the USO for a USO Coffee Connection Live event earlier this year. During the event – in which military spouses and an influential guest discuss topics that are relevant and trending within the military spouse community – the philanthropist, entrepreneur, mother and wife to NASCAR champion Kyle Busch shared her story.

Busch explained that, although she is not a military spouse, she understood the challenges of loneliness that many military spouses often face. Due to her husband’s work, Busch had to move across the country, leaving behind a close-knit, established network of family and friends, much like military spouses must do with each new duty station move. Busch shared her tips and tricks for making new friends and how she built a community around her in her new home.

Busch also discussed the immense challenges that come with infertility and how she has leaned on her community to overcome the strain it can take on women. Inspired by her own struggles with infertility, Busch and her husband have begun philanthropy work to assist other hopeful mothers-to-be in covering the cost of infertility treatments.

4. Kristin Cavallari shares tips and tricks for bonding with family members at home.

During a USO MVP event, television star and businesswoman Kristin Cavallari welcomed the USO and military viewers into her kitchen to bake cookies together and discuss parenting. As Cavallari guided participants through her cookie recipe, she shared how she had to get creative to entertain her children while stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

One such creative example was cooking: Cavallari is known for her popular online recipes and she explained that her children were a catalyst to her cooking more.

“I like baking [the most] because I like getting them in the kitchen,” she said, explaining that her children prefer to help with baking sweets than cooking dinner.

Although Cavallari primarily uses baking as a way to bond with her kids, she has kept them entertained throughout the pandemic lockdowns with plenty of other activities, including everything from tie-dyeing to constructing homemade obstacle courses.

5. Tamron Hall and medical professionals discuss the realities of post-partum life.

Journalist and talk show host Tamron Hall spoke with a number of maternal health experts during a USO MVP four-part series focusing on a variety of pregnancy topics.

These professionals had the chance to speak one-on-one with military moms and moms-to-be, who dialed in directly to the call, to discuss various aspects around feeding babies and necessary steps for mothers’ immediate post-partum recoveries. Hosting this event virtually was especially helpful for members of the military community stationed overseas, who may not have access to expansive support systems for their pregnancies.

These virtual events with celebrities and military moms stationed all around the world were far more than just entertainment. They also provided these military moms with a chance to connect with one another and find strength in a community of mothers who are tackling not only motherhood, but life in the military.

More Stories Like This

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  • 2020 in Review: How the USO Entertained the Military Through the Pandemic

    The COVID-19 pandemic required the USO to quickly pivot and find a new way to deliver entertainment to service members and military families worldwide to keep morale high. The USO MVP Series allowed the military community to virtually meet one-on-one with some of the world’s leading entertainers. Here’s a look at some of the highlights from the series throughout 2020.

  • On Mother’s Day, Remember that Military Moms Serve, Too

    Military moms often celebrate Mother’s Day apart from their children, but despite all that they have already given, many – like Brandi Elias – are inspired by their children’s service to give back even more.

As the COVID-19 outbreak is evolving, the USO has pivoted resources across the entire global enterprise in an approach that helps care for military members and their families.

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