From the Desk of…

We here at the USO hope this new blog is keeping you informed of the many programs, services, celebrity entertainment tours, and more that our organization has to offer the men and women who bravely serve this nation.  One of the great things about a blog is that we can share the words and thoughts of the people that make this organization what it is.  “From the Desk of…” will serve to give you first-person postings from the USO.  So here, without further ado…

From the desk of John Hanson, Senior Vice President of Communications:

Welcome to this site.  We’ll promise to update you regularly on what the USO is doing and how you can help the troops.  We can’t do what we do without you.

Fort Hood Community Strong

Hood Stadium, just before the start of the Community Strong concert

Right now (the afternoon of December 11), thousands of troops, family members and local citizens have gathered at Ft. Hood, Texas.  They’re participating in a daylong event that featuring some of today’s best performers.  They’re performing for free, just as all of the celebrities we call on do.

Watch this space for photos and videos as they come in.

Most of us who care about U.S. troops and family members are thinking about Afghanistan.  The USO has been taking entertainment tours to Afghanistan for the past 8 years.  With the help of the National Football League, we built the Pat Tillman Memorial USO Center at Bagram Airfield 4 years ago, and it remains a vibrant hub of activity for the troops stationed there and those transiting through the base. It’s right off the flight line, near the passenger terminal.  There’s access to the Internet and we make free phone calls home available, just as we do at all of our centers in the region.  There’s a wide-screen TV for watching movies (and football games), and a great little kitchen for snacks and drinks.  It’s a great representation of home.

John Hanson - SVP Communications

I was honored to escort Marie Tillman when she visited the center just before Thanksgiving.  I think that experience was important for her, and her visit meant a great deal to the men and women stationed there.  All of my trips to Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait are emotional, but this one was very special.

Our presence in Afghanistan is expanding, as the U.S. role there is.  In addition to the Tillman Center, we will open a new center across the base.  When we built the first location, there were 8,000 troops at Bagram.  The number has expanded, and we need another place for troops to relax.

We’ve also opened a phone kiosk in Kabul, and our next large center will open in Kandahar in spring.

A word about the Internet and phone calls from the region.  We have known for years that access the Internet and clear phone calls was a challenge.  It was really hard to log on, and sometimes impossible to get a call out of the country.

In April, we bought access to a satellite and created our own private telephone network.  Every USO location in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait has access to the network.  Initially, we thought troops would be thrilled with fast on-line access – and they are.  The most gratifying aspect, though, is that about 180,000 phone calls a month are being made.  It’s great to play a part in that connection to home.

So, we’ll grow in Afghanistan as troops’ needs require.

Stay tuned.

4 thoughts on “From the Desk of…

  1. The Ultimate Sacrifice
    © Lisa Milligan May 28, 2007

    Because of you
    we can get up every morning
    and go to work
    run errands at lunch time
    drive through McDonald’s
    fill up our gas tanks
    and make it back to work
    just in time

    Because of you
    we don’t have houses
    we have homes
    where we walk through the door
    the dog jumps on us
    as do our children
    we hug our spouses
    and smell dinner cooking

    Because of you
    we have artwork from Kindergarten
    and shopping lists
    hanging on the refrigerator
    along with pictures held up with tape or magnets
    school pictures, pictures of gramma and grampa
    pictures of babies, kittens, and teenagers
    dressed for the prom

    Because of you
    we gather around the dinner table
    play in the backyard with our kids
    feed the cat, walk the dog
    splash water on our children in the tub
    then tuck them into bed with hugs and kisses
    and reassurance there are no monsters
    in closets or under beds

    Because of you
    with the children asleep
    and the dishes all done
    men make love to their wives
    wives make love to their husbands
    and drift off to sleep intertwined
    feeling life is good, all is well
    and we are safe

    Because of you
    we are safe
    we can sit in fields watching our kids play soccer
    or in the stands watching our kids play hockey
    we can grill hamburgers and hot dogs
    eat potato salad and cole slaw
    drink ice cold beer
    and play pool while the kids run through sprinklers

    Because of you
    we must remember
    to have a moment of silence on Memorial Day
    to remember your sacrifice
    and your family’s
    and to thank you that we get to live these lives
    sometimes eventful, sometimes uneventful
    but always full of possibilities

    Because of you

  2. Cyndi – I can’t tell you how much your comments mean to me. Thank you so much! Whoever and wherever the troops are, they are in my thoughts and prayers, and in my grateful heart.


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