By Adi Fink
Being stationed at a duty station outside of the continental U.S. can often be a lifelong dream for service members and their families. For Army Sgt. Cortney Carmona and Spc. Jesus “Danny” Carmona, that dream became reality … twice!
After their first duty station took them to Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, the young couple set off to Baumholder, Germany, where they are currently stationed with their two daughters— 2-year-old Aria, and 5-month-old Aurora.
Although being stationed abroad can feel dreamy, it can also often be overshadowed by the distance from home. In spite of military life’s challenges, the Carmonas have found a place to nurture their sense of community, strengthen their family bond and remain connected – at the USO.
“It speaks measures to our family that there is an organization out there that encourages community and connection and is so intentional,” Cortney said.
Love and Military Service Around the World
The Carmonas met back home, in Illinois. A quick conversation in their college hallway led them to realize both were preparing to enlist in the U.S. Army. Cortney believes meeting prior to enlisting was for the best.
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“I don’t think I could fall in love with Danny with the bald head he had in basic [training], nor could he tolerate my smell after a long week in the range,” she said.
The couple later married during their Christmas block leave after completing Advanced Individual Training (AIT).
Through their military career, the USO has been where the Carmonas find respite. The family was first introduced to the organization at one of the airport centers amid an international trip.
Years and several USO visits later – one of which included the USO Baumholder grand opening in 2019 – the Carmonas are still regulars at the USO.
The Carmonas Find Community at USO Baumholder
Since arriving in Germany, the family has attended a variety of USO Baumholder programs, including those exclusive for active duty service members, like the monthly Troop Lunch and USO Coffee Connections, which is for military spouses. Cortney is especially fond of the USO Coffee Connections events and has attended several, both in-person and virtual.
“Along with being a soldier, I am a [military] spouse and don’t often get to have that connection … to talk about life with other spouses,” Cortney said.
The Carmonas are present at nearly every program engaging with fellow service members and snapping photos – so much so that they’re even known as the most photogenic family on Baumholder!
Their favorite program is the monthly lunches exclusive for active duty service members, which is a popular program among USO visitors as it also brings a taste of home to Germany. The couple finds this as an opportunity to reconnect through their hectic days.
“We sometimes forget about lunch with all of the busy of life going on and are thankful that [Troop Lunch] provides an opportunity to have lunch together,” Danny said.
Not only does the couple enjoy the USO programming available at USO Baumholder, but their children have also been able to participate alongside their parents for fun, kid-friendly programs, such as the center’s annual Amazing Race Scavenger Hunt.
No matter where their service takes them next, the Carmonas know that the USO will be right by their side, ready to support their entire family.
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