USO’s Military Family Programs

USO’s Military Family Programs

The USO has been lifting the spirits of troops and military families for more than 70 years. While this mission has not changed, the USO has continually adapted to meet the changing needs of our troops. In today’s active duty force, 56% of our troops are married, while 44 % have children. As a result, the USO has many programs designed specifically to benefit military families.

USO Photo Book Program — Through a partnership with RocketLife LLC, families can upload up to 60 photos and create a personal soft cover photo book small enough to fit in a cargo pants pocket. These 20-page albums warm the hearts of our troops and keep them connected to husbands, wives, parents, children and friends. their lives back home.

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With You All The Way — USO partners with the Trevor Romain Foundation to promote self- confidence and academic achievement in military children six to 18 years old. Using innovative, inspiring and humorous stories, Trevor has spoken with thousands of children about the difficulties of deployment during his many USO tours. He has created DVDs, journals, resource books and other materials to help families cope with deployment, reintegration, and what happens when a parent returns from combat with wounds, both seen and unseen.

Operation Phone Home® — Operation Phone Home® is one of the most popular services we provide to deployed troops.  At our centers in combat zones, the USO provides a private phone network for troops to make free phone calls home, access to computers with free high speed internet bandwidth to connectwith friends and family, as well as free wireless Internet for troops with their own computers.  For troops serving in remote areas without access to our centers, the USO provides free international pre-paid calling cards.  In 2011, the USO shipped phone cards to more than 250 locations around the globe.  To date the USO has provided nearly 3 million free pre-paid international calling cards to troops stationed overseas.

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United Through Reading’s Military Program — USO and United Through Reading® joined forces in 2006 to connect deployed troops to their children back home.  Troops can read to their children while being recorded, as if they were in the same room together, even from a small base in Afghanistan  The USO mails the DVD recording and book home  so children can  watch Mom or Dad and listen to their loving voice at bedtime, naptimeor just anytime. Families then complete the United Through Reading® Circle of Communication by sending back a touch of home – a photo of the child watching their deployed Mom or Dad reading the book. Since the program’s inception, the USO has shipped more 200,000 recordings.

Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families — Now in its sixth year, Sesame’s “Talk, Listen, Connect” outreach initiative includes kits with a DVD and other resources which serve as tools for military parents and caregivers to talk to children facing the complex issues associated with military life.  Bringing the magic of “Talk, Listen, Connect” to life, Elmoand his friendKatie, a military child, perform at military bases worldwide.

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The USO exists to lift the spirits of both our troops and their families. For more information on USO programs, visit  http://www.uso.org/programs  -Joseph P. Scannell, New Media Intern

Back In Stock: Limited Edition USO Jersey Tee

Spring is here and the excitement of baseball’s opening day is just 8 days away.

We all have different baseball teams we support. But there’s one team we can all root for: America’s troops.

And given all they’re going through right now, we need to make our support loud, clear and visible. Please make a donation of $25 or more today to get your limited edition “Support Our Troops” jersey-style t-shirt.

Millions of America’s bravest men and women have proudly served in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade. They’ve done everything our country has asked of them at great personal sacrifice.

Let’s make it clear that we honor their service and that we will always have their back. Donate $25 or more before the April 4th deadline to get your limited edition t-shirt.

With your help, our “Support Our Troops” t-shirt will be seen at sporting and other events all through the spring and summer.

Thanks for wearing your t-shirt with pride and taking part in this high-profile show of support for our troops. – Sloan Gibson, President & CEO, USO

Your Support

With you by our side, the USO was able to life the spirits of our troops and their families in some powerful ways last year — no matter where their missions took them or what they faced.

That’s why I’m so proud to share our 2011 Investor Report with you. Please take a moment to look it over and see the full scope and power of what your support makes possible.

Check out our 2011 USO Investor Report to see how your support is changing our troops’ lives.

As important as it is to look back at what we’ve accomplished together, you and I know that the troops need us looking ahead. And with your ongoing support, we’re already working to do even more for our brave service men and women in 2012.

And I’m so thankful to have you working by our side to make it all possible. We couldn’t do it without you.

Here’s to making 2012 an even greater year of support.
Sloan Gibson President and CEO, USO

Supporting Our Wounded Troops

In April 2003, the USO opened a center embedded in the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility (CASF) at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. The CASF serves as a staging area for wounded, ill and injured troops who are preparing for medevac transport back to the United States for further treatment and rehabilitation and is sometimes the first place these service members are reunited with family.  On average, more than 200 wounded, ill or injured troops come through the doors of the USO center at CASF Ramstein each month and every week the volunteers and staff host 2-3 breakfasts and dinners for base personnel.These meals are served prior to the 9.5-hour flight on a C-17 bound for Walter Reed Military Medical Center back in the U.S. Each week, patients and medical care providers alike join together for a wonderful meal made possible by the fantastic USO staff and volunteers at CASF Ramstein.After enjoying a delicious meal, volunteers and staff hand out pillows and quilts to the servicemen and women to help make their flight home much more comfortable. Thanks to the incredible work at CASF Ramstein, hundreds of our troops have their spirits lifted when they need it most. Thank you for all that you continue to do! – Joseph P. Scannell, USO New Media Intern

A Helping Hand: Travelers Aid and USO Share History of Serving Troops

Long before we had highway rest stops and airport food courts, the only way to travel cross-country was by rail, boat or a primitive network of roads.  Back in the mid-1800’s, the journey could be arduous, uncomfortable, even dangerous.

Pioneers faced huge hurdles as they headed west to explore the frontier or cash in on the Gold Rush—hurdles like exposure to cholera, unreliable stagecoach schedules and lack of access to food and medicine.

During that time, the city of St. Louis became a stopping point for weary road-warriors in need of rest and refreshment.  That’s why the city’s mayor left half a million dollars in his will to create the Travelers Aid movement, supporting anyone on a long distance journey through unfamiliar territory.  By the late 1800’s, a network of Travelers Aid chapters had sprung up in major cities in the Midwest and along the East coast.

At first the focus was on helping the most vulnerable.  Ray Flynt, president of Travelers Aid International, says the YWCA was a catalyst for creating many of the early programs because “their interest was in making sure that women and girls had some level of protection when they traveled and that they weren’t preyed upon by strangers.”

Later, Travelers chapters also became involved in welcoming new immigrants to the U.S, says Flynt.  “Making sure they knew what facilities were available, where they could get a room, what they could expect to pay for it… so they wouldn’t be abused by somebody that was trying to take advantage of them.”

Travelers Aid was the first non-sectarian social welfare organization in the country, and among its founding principles was to serve anyone regardless of religion, gender or race.  In 1941, it became one of the six groups that President Roosevelt tapped to form the United Service Organizations (USO.)

During World War II, Travelers Aid set up 153 “Troops in Transit” lounges at bus and rail stations nationwide to serve troops traveling to and from deployments or training camps.  Flynt says their mission was “to greet people, provide a smiling face, a welcome, a cup of coffee… [and] help sew a button back on a uniform.”

Then, as now, the organization depended on the efforts of hundreds of volunteers.  Travelers Aid is no longer connected with the USO, but it still has active chapters at about 20 airports and a handful of rail stations, providing information, directions and help with problem-solving.

Even though modern travelers carry laptops and smart phones, Flynt believes they still can benefit from a helping hand and smiling face.

“When you’re away from home, when you’re disconnected from your support systems, that’s where you really need someone you can turn to and that you can trust.” – Malini Wilkes, USO Director of Story Development

USO Boca Java Partnership

We are proud to announce our newest partnership with Boca Java as we work together to lift the spirits of our troops and families!

Boca Java™, a family-owned Colorado Coffee company, is a national provider of over 100 different artisan roast-to-order coffees. In October 2003, a soldier in Iraq contacted Boca Java requesting a coffee donation. The letter went on to explain there were many things the troops have to go without, but a few things, like a good cup of coffee would really be appreciated. Boca Java mailed out several boxes and received a nice email back in November of 2003 that demonstrated how much they appreciated the support.

Since 2005, Boca Java and their customers have donated over 7.6 Million cups of fresh roasted coffee to troops serving honorably overseas. Now, in 2012, the USO has partnered with Boca Java to bring coffee to our troops around the world. Boca Java will match each bag donated by our customers to support the USO2GO program until the end of the year.

Head on over to the official partner site today and for as little at $7.99, you can donate a bag of coffee to the troops and Boca Java will match your donation bag for bag! – Joseph P. Scannell, New Media Intern