USO Girls and Their Volunteer Experience

Caroline (L) and Jamie (R) are the USO Girls. They pose here with a servicemember who's passing through the DFW USO.

Some of the most prolific military bloggers are volunteers with organizations that support the Troops.  We’re especially proud of “USO Girls,” two women who volunteer at the Dallas-Fort Worth USO (well, one now; the other gal recently moved) and share the stories of staff, other volunteers, and – most importantly, the Troops and their families who travel through the center.

As part of our continuing celebration of National Volunteer Week, we bringing this special guest blog from the USO Girls – we hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

We are Jamie and Caroline and we are just two of the hundreds of people who volunteer at the USO at the Dallas/Ft Worth airport. We have volunteered for over 4 years, on weekends, hosting active duty, retirees, and families of our service members.  We have loved every minute of it and it has become a very important part of our lives.  We both have great parents who raised us right and taught us the importance of loving our country and the men and women who protect and defend it. We both wanted to do something to show our appreciation but we weren’t sure how or where to start.

We did research and found the USO. We work in the USO center on Saturdays where service members have the opportunity to watch a movie, enjoy snacks, check email, take a nap, or just kick back and relax.

A servicemember is welcomed home by the USO and greeted by his family during R&R.

The DFW USO also has a unique opportunity to serve our troops through the R&R program. Each day volunteers welcome home a group of soldiers coming home for their two weeks of R&R from Iraq and Afghanistan. We also have a flight that leaves every day going back. They fly to DFW after they have finished up their two weeks of rest. There is a group of volunteers every day for each flight that hang out at the sendoff gate, handing out snacks and water.

We also have the United Through Reading program, it’s a great way for soldiers to keep in contact with their children. We record them reading a book and then we send the DVD and book to their kids so they can read along with the parent while they are deployed. We’ve had so many great experiences through the years and so many memories. From a five year old talking to us over an ice cream cone how excited he was to talk to his daddy on the phone who was overseas to meeting an Airman on his way to Iraq who talked about his wonderful girlfriend, hoping they would make it through his deployment and then seeing him a year after he returned home, telling us he is on his way to propose to her.

The USO and the volunteers has become our second family. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve had service members thank us for just being there. All it takes is a few hours of your time. It’s worth it, we promise!

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the USO Girls and do not necessarily reflect those of the USO.

We Celebrate the Grand Opening of USO El Paso, Alongside FirstLight Federal Credit Union

Soldiers help Karl Murphy, FirstLight Federal Credit Union president, cut the ribbon during the grand opening ceremony on April 15, 2010. (USO Photo by El Paso Portraits)

The USO and FirstLight Federal Credit Union opened conjoined, brand new centers, continuing their commitment to service members stationed on Fort Bliss.   These new facilities will serve more than 37,000 troops and 53,000 military family members expected on Fort Bliss by 2012.   USO El Paso also supports troops stationed in New Mexico and on White Sands Missile Range and Holloman Air Force Base.

Yolanda Castillo is the Director of USO El Paso and has this to say about the new center: “On-going community support of our new USO facility at East Fort Bliss has enabled the thousands of troops at Fort Bliss to find a true ‘home away from home’.  Our new center is bright and welcoming, and will offer troops a pleasant respite from their daily military duties. We are very grateful for the generous support from FirstLight Federal Credit Union and the El Paso community!”

Located at the northeast corner of Constitution and Sgt. Major Blvd, the new building is situated in the heart of Fort Bliss.  This is USO El Paso’s second location on Fort Bliss, creating one of the largest combined footprints on any military installation.  The new 6,400 square foot USO center boasts more than 30 Internet enabled computer stations, three flat screen televisions, Blu-ray players, six Xbox® 360 consoles, pool tables, a kitchen area, lounge, lending library, snack bar and large outdoor patio.

New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman said, “The new center on Fort Bliss will help meet the quickly escalating demand from the many soldiers and their families new to the base and the remaining thousands arriving in the next few years. The FirstLight-USO partnership is one that is above and beyond the usual, and one that will improve the lives of many in a meaningful way.”

Check out more photos below!

The new 6,400 square foot USO center has 40 Internet enabled computer stations, 3 flat screen televisions, Blu-ray players, 6 Xbox® 360 consoles, pool tables, a kitchen area, lounge, lending library and outdoor patio. (USO Photo by El Paso Portraits)

USO president, Sloan Gibson, acknowledges media during the USO El Paso and FirstLight Federal Credit Union grand opening celebration on April 15, 2010. (USO Photo by El Paso Portraits)

USO El Paso Programs Manager, Robert Medrano (R), chats with a center volunteer during the USO El Paso and FirstLight Federal Credit Union grand opening celebration on April 15, 2010. (USO Photo by El Paso Portraits)

The USO's Mobile Canteen traveled to Fort Bliss to greet and serve troops and their families during the USO El Paso and FirstLight Federal Credit Union's grand opening celebration on April 15, 2010. (USO Photo by El Paso Portraits)

Yolanda Castillo, director of USO El Paso, greets guests during the grand opening of USO El Paso and FirdtLight Federal Credit Union's first conjoined center on Fort Bliss. (USO Photo by El Paso Portraits)