USO Northwest Florida Opens New Airport Center!

The Grand Opening of USO of Northern Florida's "Freedom Lounge" was a cause for celebration at the Northwest Florida Regional Airport on June 29, 2010. (Photo by Devon Ravine; reprinted with permission)

USO of Northwest Florida certainly put the “grand” in their Grand Opening ceremony for “The USO Freedom Lounge” earlier this week.

A new center is now located in the Northwest Florida Regional Airport will serve more than 30,000 troops and their families in Escambia, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties.  With 1,000 square feet of space, the center boasts Wi-Fi connectivity, computer stations, televisions, gaming tables, a children’s area and snack bar.

Guests, Troops, and their families were decidedly impressed with the new facility: “This is the classiest USO facility I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Col. Bruce McClintock, commander of the 96th Air Base Wing at Eglin Air Force Base told Northwest Florida Daily News. “This community does the best job with caring for past, present and future warriors. We are grateful to all of you.”

Troops and their families checked out the new facilities, which include such amenities as flat screen televisions, comfortable furniture, and an area for kids! (Photo by Devon Ravine; reprinted with permission)

USO of Northwest Florida consists of three centers – the Airport Welcome Center at Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional Airport, the USO Recreation Center on NAS Pensacola and the newest center at Northwest Florida Regional Airport.

The USO Freedom Lounge (special thanks to Leadership Okaloosa Class 2009-2010 for naming it as their project!) is located across from the ticketing counter and we know it will positively impact our military traveling through the airport.  Be sure to follow USO of Northwest Florida on Facebook and click here to find out about volunteer opportunities!

Breaking the Roles: Chef Michael Deihl

U. S. Army Sergeant Sherree Vannoy, 28, from New York City is served lunch by USO Volunteer Larri Milligan the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport USO on Feb 14 as part of the Operation Chefs Unite Valentine's Day buffet. (USO Photo by Michael Clifton)

Continuing this week’s HuffPost Impact series “Breaking the Roles” is today’s profile of Michael Deihl, the Executive Chef at the East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia, and one of the founders of Operation Chefs Unite.  OCU is an ongoing partnership between the Greater Atlanta Chapter of the American Culinary Federation and USO of Georgia to feed Troops traveling through the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.

The interview shows that preparing meals for service members is about much more than just food: “Deihl’s favorite holiday to feed the troops is Christmas. Each December 25, Deihl rises at 4 a.m., ‘getting up when Santa’s just putting his sleigh away,’ to prepare a lavish traditional feast for soldiers. Deihl says, ‘I never felt the spirit of Christmas. I thought I did, but I never felt it until I started getting up early to feed the soldiers.'”

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!