This story was last updated in January 2020
Our USO centers around the world provide many different versions of the same thing – a place to relax and connect while off duty. We offer free internet connections, and a comfortable place to watch a movie or read a book. Troops can even call home from many of our centers and USO airport lounges.
USO centers don’t just offer respite for our men and women in uniform - they also provide a sense of security for parents and loved ones back home. If they know their military member is at the USO, they know everything is okay.
The USO operates in than 220 locations around the world. We employ nearly 600 people, most of whom work in the field. That means at any one time in any USO location, there is usually one paid staff member, augmented by the army of volunteers who make this organization function.
Who Can Use the USO?
Occasionally, veterans or military retirees contact us to tell us they couldn’t get into a USO airport lounge because they didn’t have an active military ID card. As much as we’d like to open our doors to all those who have honorably served, we have limited space and resources. The USO must focus its mission on serving the needs of those who need us most: serving active duty, Reserve and Guard service members, as well as their families. For 77 years, that’s been our mission.
For more information on this policy, or to provide us with feedback on a specific USO center experience, contact us.
USO Centers Overseas
Overseas, USO centers provide other special services. Troops in Europe or the Pacific can connect with the regional culture they’ve just moved into, and local customs are explained to folks who may never have left the United States until they joined the military.
Our centers in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, and around the Persian Gulf offer a different kind of break. Troops at our centers near combat areas know they can go to the USO and just relax for a while. Maybe they’ll watch a football game on TV, or play video games with their buddies. Maybe they’ll take a few minutes to be recorded reading a book to the children in their lives through the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program. The USO’s private telephone network allows troops to call home for free or access a high-speed Wi-Fi connection to the internet.
USO Centers on Military Bases in the U.S.
On military bases, such as Fort Riley, Kansas, or Fort Hood, Texas, the USO is a community center for troops. Families go there for special programs, and troops may spend their off-duty time at the USO to email home or to be with friends. We aim to provide a home away from home for the men and women serving our country.
USO Airport Lounges
Most Americans who see USO centers pass them at major airports across the country. In places like Atlanta and Dallas, the normal everyday traffic of troops through those USO airport lounges is compounded by the daily arrival and departure of military rest and recuperation flights.
The airports donate space to the USO and we don’t pay rent, so USO airport lounges tend to be smaller than our locations on military bases. That’s why our airport lounges are open only to military members and their families. While we’d like everyone to see what we offer, our mission is to serve active duty, Reserve and Guard service members, as well as their families
Mobile USO Centers
Acting as USO centers on wheels, Mobile USOs offer service members in the United States the same great support that is found in USO airport lounges or installation locations. These large, mobile centers travel to big events and military exercises to provide a place for troops to relax during down time. They also provide USO services to areas without a brick-and-mortar USO center, and support military members when they are deployed to respond to natural disasters.
Each Mobile USO offers laptops, large screen televisions, video game consoles, Wi-Fi access, casual seating, refrigerators, coffee makers, and microwaves. The Mobile USO provides onsite support including climate control, video games, movies, and free Wi-Fi to keep the troops connected to loved ones back home.
The time that active troops spend regrouping at our centers is always improved by words of encouragement from USO supporters like you — you can send a message of support and thanks directly to service members via the USO’s Campaign to Connect. Your messages will appear on screens at USO locations around the world.
More from the USO
Dec 23, 2019
Reading 'The Night Before Christmas' in Afghanistan with the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program
Miles away from home and family, it can be difficult for deployed service members to celebrate the holidays. One service member in Afghanistan got into the spirit of the season through the USO's Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program, which he used to read the classic Christmas story, "The Night Before Christmas," to his children back home.