From the Desk of John Hanson, Senior Vice President of Communications at the USO:

“For nearly 8 years I’ve watched in wonder as members of the U.S. military have been asked to answer the call in dozens of places around the world.  Of course, when we think about “harm’s way” we automatically consider the risks these troops take in Afghanistan and Iraq.  But, harm’s way is also in areas devastated by natural disasters.

[caption id="attachment_681” align=“aligncenter” width=“500” caption=“A U.S. Navy SH-60 Seahawk helicopter assigned to Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 7 lifts off from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., Jan. 13, 2010, to embark aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) en route to Haiti. The squadron and several Navy vessels are under way to render humanitarian assistance after a 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck the Caribbean nation. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gary B. Granger Jr./Released) ”][/caption]

When the world responded to the tsunami in South Asia, the U.S. military was there, coordinating relief efforts and offering medical expertise.

When hurricanes swept across the U.S. Gulf Coast, the U.S. military was there, rescuing their fellow citizens and providing stability until civil order could be restored.

All the while, they were being deployed to support Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.  Time after time, they responded and performed brilliantly, focused on the missions they were assigned.

Now, we have another great disaster in Haiti.  Relief efforts from around the world are pouring into that country, but not before the Air Force restored air traffic control at the damaged civilian airport.  The Navy is bringing supplies and Marines and members of the Coast Guards will be helping to restore order.  Military medical personnel will assist doctors and nurses tend to the injured and the dying.  They will be in a different kind of “harm’s way,” and they do so without question or reservation.

Sometimes we worry that our military is being spread across too many assignments.  That’s a decision others will have to make, but it makes me proud to see these bright, talented troops going where they’re needed.  They represent the very best about the United States.  They are our finest ambassadors wherever they serve, and they deserve our support and respect.“

Every branch of the military is dispatching aid to Haiti and the State Department has set up a toll-free number for those seeking information on loved ones there.  USA Today has compiled a comprehensive list of ways to show your support and will have a live chat with Lt. Col. Dan Starrett and others at 2:30pm EST today.