How One Marine Spouse Learned to Lean on the USO While Traveling

By Sandi Gohn

Editor’s note: With the local and state guidelines varying so greatly for operational status in public spaces, some of the USO’s airport centers may be impacted, especially as those guidelines rapidly change. The USO is keeping hours of operation updated on each center’s local website, which also populates in our mobile app. It’s best to check the operational status and hours to know what to expect prior to arrival and understand that it could change very quickly.

Getting on an airplane is a journey in and of itself.

First, you have to save money, book a flight and pack your bags. Next, you have to travel to the airport, check your luggage and maneuver your way through security. Then, if all goes well, you have to sit in the terminal and wait to board your airplane, hoping there aren’t any flight delays. Finally, once you board your flight and take off toward your destination, you remember your journey is only halfway done – as soon as you land, a steady stream of tasks like claiming baggage, picking up your rental car and navigating to your final destination will take up more of your valuable time.

Now, imagine having to go through that entire ordeal multiple times a year – just to spend a few days with your spouse. Christian Fuscarino, whose husband Cpl. Aaron Williams is a U.S. Marine, knows this jet-setting lifestyle all too well.

Christian Fuscarino. | Photo credit Courtesy photo

“For something so basic of seeing your spouse, something that so many people take for granted every night when they go home from work … having to get on a plane and doing all that travel just to see the person that you love is a lot,” Fuscarino said.

Fuscarino, who currently lives in New Jersey, says the couple’s life changed forever when Williams joined the Marine Corps in 2016. In particular, he remembers how hard it was to see Williams head off to Parris Island, South Carolina, for basic training, knowing he likely wouldn’t hear from his husband for three months until graduation day. It was in this difficult moment that their family first encountered the USO.

“One of the first phone calls I got was from him just calling to say that he had meal at the USO [in South Carolina],” Fuscarino said. “From the very beginning of this journey there’s been a positive experience thanks to the USO.”

A few months later, after Williams graduated basic training and headed to North Carolina for more training, Fuscarino hopped on a plane to visit him at his new duty station. As a newly-minted military spouse, he remembers being in the airport and wondering how he would be able to cope with the upcoming years of travel and time away from his husband. It also didn’t help that his flight was delayed.

“I remember [during that trip] the moment I was able to just walk into a USO center and it made the experience so much better,” he said.

“[It] made it feel like it was less of a hard trip and more of just a stop along the way with people that are familiar with what you’re going through. And that was the moment, I think, I really thought to myself that I’ll be able to do this and not lose my mind.”

Fuscarino recalls feeling so thankful for the USO’s airport center, in fact, that he submitted a note of thanks to the nonprofit military support organization via USO.org. He added that since these first few interactions with the USO, he and his husband have both been able to enjoy several moments over the years at various USO locations during their travels together and apart.

Military spouse Christian Fuscarino and his husband, Marine Cpl. Aaron Williams.

“The USO has been always a very welcoming environment to both of us who show up as our authentic selves. And he shows his ID card and I show him mine and it’s no secret that we are traveling as spouses and it’s always been a really positive and welcoming environment,” he said.

“It’s nice to be able to walk into a place where folks understand exactly the situation you’re going through, but also for there to be no judgment.”

- This story was originally reported in 2020. As of April 2021, Cpl. Aaron Williams was part of the inactive Marine Corps Reserve.

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