There’s More Than Camo to This Airman: Meet Andrew, a USO Volunteer Leading a Life of Service

By Shannon Hamelund

From summer 2022 to spring 2023, anyone walking through the doors of USO Osan Air Base in South Korea likely saw a familiar face – that of Staff Sgt. Andrew Evans. Andrew, best known at USO Osan for his good-natured jokes and witty sarcasm, is a USO volunteer who has volunteered at our organization in three countries. In fact, Andrew has recently surpassed his 1,000th volunteer hour. While it may seem like he “lives at the USO,” as he often jokes, Andrew first began his life of service as an intelligence analyst with the U.S. Air Force, where he has so far served two overseas tours.

Between his military and USO volunteer service, it can sometimes be difficult to separate Andrew and “SSgt. Evans.” But, when you take a moment to chat with him, you learn that there is so much more to Andrew than his military uniform.

A native of Muskegon, Michigan, Andrew is the oldest of four siblings. While his military career has him spending much of his time indoors, one of his greatest passions lies in athletics. Since his high school years, Andrew has been an avid cross country runner and soccer player, and both sports continue to play a key role in his life in the military, where he can be seen out on the field during his unit’s sports days.

Photo credit USO Photo/Kimberly Kephart

Staff Sgt. Andrew Evans, an airman and USO volunteer who recently celebrated his 1000th volunteer hour.

When not running or on the soccer field, Andrew can be found relaxing and unwinding by watching his favorite shows, such as documentaries or “who done it” programs (he prides himself on being able to figure out who the bad guy is before the plot twist is revealed), as well as reading fantasy or adventure novels. When asked what usually surprises people to learn about him, he confided that he’s actually much more of an introvert than his friendly personality or sharp wit makes him appear. Having time to himself to relax and recharge after a long day at work is important to his self-care.

How Being an Airman Led to a Life of Service

Andrew has been an airman for almost six years, though it was not his original plan. After graduating high school, he attended college and soon realized that he wasn’t at the best place for that juncture of his life. His family realized it too, and encouraged him to consider military service, as had other members of his family. Specifically, they felt that his analytical mind and personality would make him a good fit for the Air Force.

Once he committed to pursuing a career in the military, his desire to set himself up for success upon his future return to the civilian sector is what led him to the intelligence field. He felt that selecting a job that required a top-secret security clearance would provide excellent prospects “on the outside.”

Since joining the military, Andrew has had many unique and exciting experiences. He has lived and worked in three countries, ridden a camel through the desert and experienced Korean food and culture. Military service has also given him a chance to meet people with different backgrounds and viewpoints, as being in the military provides service members with an opportunity to meet all different types of people outside of their hometowns.

Despite Andrew’s amazing adventures, his military service has also brought him several stressors and challenges. During his deployment to Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), his work directly supported the mission of MQ-9 drone pilots, where he was responsible for collecting intelligence information on prospective targets, which – according to Andrew – isn’t just something you can walk away from at the end of the day and leave at the office.

“The longer you do it, once you leave, it travels with you, ”he said.

Another high stressor in Andrew’s military life, one that he feels that the civilian population does not necessarily understand, is that service members have to miss important life events due to their service, and they don’t have a choice. He emphasized that when you’re in the military, you’re 24/7, and you can’t just walk away.

Photo credit USO Photo/Kimberly Kephart

For Andrew, the USO is a place where he can escape from the everyday stressors that come with being in the military.

It was his need to cope with high-stress missions and the 24/7 lifestyle of the military that ultimately led him to the USO while deployed during the COVID-19 pandemic. For Andrew, the USO is a place to escape and be around people who bring him joy. According to Andrew, people smile so much more at the USO Center than in his line of work. The USO serves as a place to step away from whatever it is he is dealing with professionally, and gives him peace and respite at the end of a long day.

The whole ‘being away from home, cutting yourself off from people other than work’ isn’t very healthy, so [being at the USO] was my way of not being depressed and homesick,” he said.

Moving from using the USO to serving as a USO volunteer was a natural transition for Andrew. Since beginning his volunteer journey at USO Abu Dhabi and continuing to volunteer in South Korea, he has earned several awards, including the President’s Volunteer Service Award, Volunteer of the Month and Volunteer of the Quarter. Now that he’s back stateside, he volunteers with USO Ohio at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. For Andrew, the USO has truly become a home away from home, no matter what that temporary home may be.

Photo credit USO Photo/Kimberly Kephart

Since he began volunteering with the USO, Andrew has earned multiple awards, including the President’s Volunteer Service Award, Volunteer of the Month and Volunteer of the Quarter.

Andrew believes that the USO serves as a perfect bridge between military and civilian life, as service members and civilians often volunteer side by side. He believes opportunities like this are important, as it exposes each group to new viewpoints. Civilians can see the human side of service members, and both communities can, if they take the chance, learn from each other and grow together.

Whether Andrew is wearing his uniform or not, the USO has been a safe space for him, and allows him to show his community a little bit of the man behind the staff sergeant.

More Stories Like This

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.


Sign Up for Updates

Be the first to learn about news, service member stories and fundraising updates from USO.

By participating, you agree to the Mobile Messaging Terms for recurring autodialed donation messages from USO to the phone number you provide & to the Privacy Policy. No consent required to buy. Msg&data rates may apply.

Take Action

The USO relies on your support to help service members and their families.

Ways to Support