SVP of Communications John Hanson:
The USO in Afghanistan, Part 2 (read Part 1 here)
In Afghanistan, the USO faced a challenge. We exist to serve the needs of troops – especially those at the tip of the spear. In past wars, it wasn’t so hard. We could build USO centers at large and medium-sized bases and feel confident that we’d be there for most of the people serving in an area.
Afghanistan is different. Our center in Bagram – the Pat Tillman Memorial USO – is an outstanding facility, operating at capacity more than 20 hours each day, but not everybody goes through Bagram.
But, how can we get to the troops who are in the most isolated (and unforgiving) locations?
Of course, many of our entertainment tours visit large and small bases. If we can get the lift, we’ll take performers to remote outposts. One of those performers is Toby Keith. Toby makes time available to the USO every year – usually just before summer – to spend more than a week in the war zone. He will do large shows at large bases, but he insists on visiting forward operating bases and combat outposts.
After one of his trips, Toby looked at the USO representative on the tour and said, “If I can go there, why can’t the USO?”
So, we created what we call the USO in a Box. It’s a transportable container that expands to about the size of a two-car garage. These units contain laptop computers, a projector for watching movies and video game consoles. They can connect to existing power, or they can on the power produced by a generator. Three of these centers are located around Afghanistan (and we just sent one to Djibouti). And, they can be moved, if the troops move.
They provide a touch of home and a place to relax after a difficult day.
Thanks, Toby, for the challenge and for encouraging us to do more.
More from the USO
Jul 29, 2016
Military Bride-to-Be Says Yes to the Dress Thanks to the USO at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
As soon as Melissa Wrisley put on the satin white gown, she knew it was “the dress.” Just a few months earlier, when she was first engaged to her now-husband, Marine Pfc. Brandon Wrisley, Melissa was wondering if she would even be able to find a dress – let alone a designer dress – that would fit their tight wedding budget.