The USO and Iron Skillet® Restaurants Dish Up BBQ to Benefit The Troops

Who’s hungry? Iron Skillet® Restaurants located at participating Petro Stopping Centers nationwide are providing customers with a sticky but delicious opportunity this summer with the “BBQ Double Up Deal.” This delicious deal is geared to raise funds to support the troops through USO and the Mobile USO program. Petro Stopping Centers is the premier travel center brand owned and operated by TravelCenters of America LLC.

“We feel honored to be able to give back to the troops who have given so much to ensure our freedom and security,” said John Ponczoch, Senior Vice President of Restaurant Operations. “The Mobile USO program is a passion of ours as we understand just how much a ‘touch of home’ can impact the spirits of these fine men and women.”

The promotion runs while supplies last at all participating locations. To participate in the deal, customers may pair one of the 12-featured entrees with mouth-watering BBQ ribs. With each “BBQ Double Up Deal” purchased, $1 will be donated to the Mobile USO program, up to $35,000!  Also during this period, with a purchase of an adult entrée, kids 10 and under eat free at all participating locations (see details below).

“We are excited about the Iron Skillet® Restaurants promotion to benefit the troops through our Mobile USO program,” said Sloan Gibson, the USO’s president and CEO. “We appreciate their commitment to connecting the nation to our mission of serving the troops and their families.”

Since 2007, the Mobile USO program has supported troops serving in remote and isolated areas throughout the U.S., these vehicles offer a comfortable place where service members can relax and connect online with family and friends during their downtime. Each Mobile USO is outfitted with laptops, refrigerators, microwaves, high definition televisions, video game consoles, Wi-Fi access and comfortable seating.

Breaking the Roles: Dave Gatley

Photojournalist Dave Gatley snapped this great audience picture during rock band Drowning Pool's USO/AFE concert in Kuwait on August 10, 2006.

Continuing this week’s HuffPost Impact series “Breaking the Roles” is today’s profile of Dave Gatley, a prolific USO photographer and Army photojournalist.

Gatley had this to say to Jonathan Daniel Harris: “It takes a big team to do what we do, and I’m a small cog in that wheel, but happy as I can be to professionally put a face on all that I see. I’m a visual storyteller, and this work is a storyteller’s dream.”

Click here to read the full interview!

You can also follow HuffPoImpact on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.  And let us know what you think of the series!

Where in the USO World?

We have so many USO Centers and events across the globe that it’s hard to tell where this photo was taken.

Is that melting snow on the ground?

Maybe you’ve visited this location, or maybe you know someone else who has. See if you can identify the person(s) and place in this photo, and help us determine the date for our records. Hopefully someone out there will recognize some of the signage or surroundings.

You know the drill- leave a comment with any information about this photo below. Thanks for all your help!

Breaking the Roles: Jeffrey Ross

Jeffrey Ross entertains the troops at an USO show on Bagram Air Field, August 19, 2005. (U.S. Army photo by SPC Joshua Balog)

“Through Independence Day, HuffPost Impact is running a series of stories called “Breaking the Roles,” highlighting the servicemen and women of our armed forces who don’t typically see the media spotlight, and the remarkable work of the USO, who are tireless in their efforts to support all who defend our country.”

We’re thrilled to announce this six-part series,  running online at the Huffington Post‘s in partnership with Causecast, that tells untold stories of those who support our men and women in uniform!  Check back each day to see the latest interview.

Today kicks off with a hilarious interview of Jeffrey Ross, by Jonathan Daniel Harris.  Ross is a longtime supporter of the USO and the military.  His directorial debut, “Patriot Act: A Jeffrey Ross Home Movie” captured his own life changing experience traveling on a USO tour and entertaining American soldiers stationed around Iraq during the early days of the war.  It screened at many top festivals and even won Best Picture at the Montreal Comedy Festival.  Click here to read our latest blog post on Jeffrey Ross and be sure to follow him on Twitter.

You can also follow HuffPoImpact on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.  And let us know what you think of the series!

Join 4Troops for a Live, Online Concert this Friday!

The group 4Troops consists of United States combat veterans Sergeant Daniel Jens; retired Staff Sergeant Ron Henry; Sergeant David Clemo; and Captain Meredith Melcher.

4TROOPS, the hot new vocal group comprised of U.S. combat veterans, will perform a 30-minute USO concert LIVE from New York City on July 2, 2010, at 2:00 pm EST.  The concert is being streamed with the help of Stickam, an industry leader in online multimedia communications services.

Click here to bookmark the concert page!

Each member of the group served on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is on a mission to give back to troops. Their self-titled debut album was released May 11, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the USO and other organizations that support U.S. soldiers, veterans and their families. Most recently, the quartet has made appearances on “Good Morning America,” “The View,” “CNN,” “Nightline” and “Larry King Live,” among other prominent news programs. Their PBS special “4TROOPS: Live From the Intrepid” is currently airing on PBS stations nationwide and this fall the group will embark on a 50-city national tour.

During the concert, 4TROOPS will answer questions from fans, share their thoughts on what it means to serve our nation and reflect on their USO experiences. Fans will be able to view the concert live and submit advance questions for the group online via  Leave your question for the group in the comments section below! We’ll take submissions through 12pm EST on Thursday and two lucky winners will receive 4Troops prize packs!  (Sorry, USO employees and their families are not eligible.)

And be sure to follow 4Troops on Facebook and Twitter!

Our Volunteers are the Best!

We here at the USO couldn’t do what we do without the support of our amazing volunteers around the world.  Recently we’ve received a couple of great emails from volunteers, letting us know about their USO experiences.  Enjoy!

The first letter is from Michigan:
“Dear USO,
Lorraine and I [two USO volunteers -ed.] met  Lee and Sue Scherwitz at our USO tent.  Lee shared his story that in 1966 he met Sue at a USO Dance at Selfridge AFB in Mt Clements, MI and in 1967 they were married.  Lee has great memories of the USO and has a special date with the USO in his life! Lee served in the US Air Force for 26 years, serving Vietnam though Desert Storm.  He is currently the Airport Director Southwest Michigan Regional Airport (BEH).

Have a great USO Day,
Welton and Lorraine”

Lee and Sue Scherwitz at the USO tent in Michigan; they met at a USO Dance at Selfridge AFB and have been married for 43 years!

And this great letter is from Georgia:
“Hi Everyone,
I had the most wonderful day yesterday and wanted to share it with my Atlanta friends.  Steve and I volunteered a day at the USO at Hartsfield Airport.

We started our day getting there around 6:45am, signing in and prepping the food area with drinks. Then we were assigned the duty to greet the military as they arrived at the airport and positioned ourselves in our USO aprons and welcoming signs and cart at the top of the escalator where all the passengers exit to go to baggage claim.

The day started (7:00am) as the young men (mostly) and women came up the stairs to be greeted by loved ones excited to see their daddies and sons home for R & R (Rest and relaxation for 2 weeks) after being away for 8 months. They are so young and tears welled in my eyes!!!! Can I do this today??

As the morning went on things slowed down and we become the official airport greeters, helping direct many to baggage claim and ground transportation. Then around lunch time the flights started coming in from all over the country bringing back the young men and women who are returning to the war front. Some greeted us with looks of Where am I, Where do I go, Big smiles or those already starting to get back into their game faces. But not a single one was not happy to have us there, to let them know where to go and to direct them to the USO where they can rest and eat a hot lunch and get refreshments. I can DO this!!! We were told we could leave around 1:00 but I turned to Steve and said I can’t leave yet they are still coming, I have to do this. We stayed and greeted till 2:45, when after several waves of passengers had arrived no more soldiers were in the groups. Almost 8 hours later!!!! One of the best 8 hours I have spent in a long time.

People came up to us to thank us for supporting the troops, some didn’t know what was going on and we explained to them what the USO is all about. A volunteer program receiving donations from corporations and just regular folks.

So next time you come up those escalators take note what you see. Most folks just walk past our military, don’t notice them, they are invisible. Most have very little money, very young, very polite, they are the best of the best, I could not be more proud to be an AMERICAN.

I will do this again soon.

God Bless America, God Bless those soldiers I interfaced with yesterday, they will be in country by Saturday, God be with them and protect them and all those fighting to keep us FREE!!!!