The pain is invisible, but it's very real. "Portraits" -- the USO's new public service announcement series -- focuses on the invisible wounds of war, including post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. The series seeks to educate Americans on the challenges our service men and women face upon returning from war. "Post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury are not seen, they are not really understood, and often, they are overlooked," USO President Sloan Gibson said. "We hope our new Public Service Announcement, and its companion website, www.usoinvisiblewounds.org, raises awareness of the problems and offers a way to learn about the challenges these heroes and their families face as they return home." The series is done in a documentary style and features five veterans and one spouse sharing intimate details of how post traumatic stress has affected their lives. read more...
First Warrior and Family Center Under Construction
The first USO Warrior and Family Center is coming to life. The USO -- along with partners Huffman Development, Cusimano Associates and STUDIOS Architecture -- selected Scott Long Construction to build the center in Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Earth moving at the site began January 9. The center is being funded by the USO's Operation Enduring Care, a campaign to help wounded, ill and injured troops and their families and caregivers.
UPCOMING EVENTS Operation Desert Storm ended on February 28, 1991 Daylight Saving Time starts in North America on March 11 Wear something green for St. Patrick's Day on March 17 Operation Iraqi Freedom began on March 20, 2003 The Month of the Military Child kicks off April 1
USO Honored with National Medal of Arts
The USO received a tremendous honor February 13, when President Barack Obama presented the National Medal of Arts to the USO for its 71 years of entertaining America's troops. "We are humbled by the president's recognition of our mission to lift the spirits of troops and their families through exceptional entertainment around the world," USO President Sloan Gibson said. "Most importantly, we have never done this alone. From our celebrity friends who have worked with us over the years, our military and corporate partners, and our hard-working entertainment staff, we all share in this honor." It is the only time in the medal's 28-year history that it has been awarded to a military charity.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Stars Tour Mideast
Service men and women throughout the Middle East came in droves to see Army General Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- and a quartet of celebrities -- on his first USO holiday tour in December. Singer Jordin Sparks, actress and model Minka Kelly, seven-time NBA champion Robert Horry and comedian Thomas "Nephew Tommy" Miles joined Dempsey on the five-country tour. "As the son of a former soldier, I know too well the sacrifice our troops and their families make each and every day they put on their uniform," Horry said. "It is an honor for me to participate in this USO tour and accompany General Dempsey as he makes his way abroad to visit troops." The group visited troops in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Germany. "General Dempsey's USO holiday tour has been nothing short of amazing," said Kelly, who also visited Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on a USO tour in 2008. "Everyone I have met and spent time with [is] extraordinary."
Bagram East Center Comes to Life
The USO opened its newest center serving troops at war -- Bagram East, at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan -- in order to accommodate more than 20,000 troops assigned to Bagram as well as the thousands of troops transitioning through the airfield. The center's grand opening took place February 6. It's the ninth USO center in Afghanistan, and sits across Bagram Airfield from the Pat Tillman Memorial USO. With 14 computers, free WiFi, and 18 private phone stations for free calls to anywhere in the United States, troops can easily connect with friends and family back home. The center also has nine video gaming stations, a 40-seat movie theater, a coffee bar, music room, a library and a card-playing area.
Making Them Smile
Barb Troegner understands what it's like to show up in an airport needing a place to rest. The programs and marketing manager of USO Hawaii was once on the other side of the desk, traveling with her own military family. Now, it's her turn to give back. "[The best part is] seeing the smiles of the volunteers, the smiles of the recipients of whomever we are able to support and the smiles of the donors that support USO," she said. "I believe that giving something always helps a person feel better. At the USO, we give our time to make things easier for those that serve us." Troegner has a background in education, earning a bachelor's degree in 1975 from the College of St. Elizabeth in Morristown, New Jersey, before working in various schools during her career. But she always knew she'd repay her early experience with the USO. "As a traveling military family, we often used the USOs," she said. "I made a promise to myself that I would give back to the USO. After working at the Oahu Veterans Center, the opportunity to volunteer with the USO presented itself and led me to eventually become a full-time staff member." read more...