Mobile USOs Arrive in NYC to Support Troops During Superstorm Sandy Recovery

The USO of North Carolina’s Mobile USO arrived in Harlem, New York, on Tuesday afternoon. USO photo by Joseph Andrew Lee

Last Friday, USO of Metropolitan New York received a call from the 369th Regiment Armory in Harlem, requesting a touch of home for more than 7,000 troops deployed to New York and New Jersey in response to the recent superstorm.

These troops came from around the country in support of Operation Sandy—a massive joint-services cleanup and humanitarian effort expected to last the next few weeks. Troops will live in a tent city at Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field, braving the elements in order to bring food, water, gasoline and security to Superstorm Sandy-impacted communities in New York City.

To make their lives a little easier, the USO sent two Mobile USO vehicles—one from the USO’s regional office in Norfolk, Va., and another from USO of North Carolina—along with three vans packed full of supplies to provide creature comforts to the thousands of brave citizen-soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

“These troops are sleeping in a field environment with very few amenities,” said Army Capt. J.C. Bravo of the 369th Regiment Armory. “Right now we’re setting up something very similar to a Forward Operating Base—just like you might see in the field—so their noses are to the grindstone, hard at work.

“But once we get set up with a place to rest our heads, it will be a great benefit to have the presence of the USO out there.”

The Mobile USOs—scheduled to be in place and operational at Floyd Bennett Field by Thursday—will bring the USO’s special brand of services directly to these troops. Each Mobile USO lounge is equipped with books, magazines and a 46-inch LCD television with state-of-the-art home theater and digital satellite television systems and an Xbox 360 gaming system.

The Internet café inside the Mobile USO based in Norfolk features laptops for checking e-mail, accessing the Web and printing, copying or faxing documents. Each of its four laptops are also outfitted with an Xbox 360 gaming system, with the ability to play individually or against other Xbox 360 consoles networked within the vehicle. Meanwhile, the Mobile USO deployed by the USO of North Carolina features two cell phones for troops to use if necessary.

The Mobile USOs’ quick deployment capabilities allow the USO to get where it needs to be to accomplish its mission of lifting the spirits of troops and their families. And with another winter storm heading toward the New York area this week, it looks like the vehicles made it there just in time.

—Joseph Andrew Lee, USO staff writer

Retired Marine Running Across the U.S. to Raise Money for Veterans

This Veterans Day, in honor of the men and women who have served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, Marine Sergeant Brendan O’Toole (Ret.) will begin a 3,600-mile run in Oceanside, Calif.

Averaging 15 miles a day, O’Toole is pounding the pavement across 21 states in the hopes of raising $2 million to support the United States armed forces veterans, combat veterans, disabled veterans and their families.

Inspired by the classic movie “Forrest Gump”, O’Toole said he has always wanted to travel across the United States. But serving in the Marines forced him to put that dream on hold.

“When I retired from the Marines this year, I knew I still wanted to run across the country, but I wanted to dedicate [my run] to a cause higher than just myself and give back to the community,” he said.

During his service, O’Toole saw many of his Marine brothers struggle to reintegrate back into society after they served. One of O’Toole’s close friends had a difficult transition from the battlefield to home life and struggled with post traumatic stress.

Ultimately, this friend took his own life. O’Toole said that The Run for Veterans is for friends like his and other troops around the nation who need a support system and guidance during their transition.

All of the money raised by the Run for Veterans will be donated to the USO, Team Red White and Blue and Give An Hour. Each organization was chosen for the physical, mental and social support it provides to our troops. The USO is proud to be a part of the Run for Veterans’ inspiring mission.

The Run for Veterans welcomes all warriors, veterans, and civilians to run alongside O’Toole throughout the route, as a show of support for our servicemen and women.

The Run for Veterans may be coming to a city near you! Here are some of the main stops along O’Toole’s route:

  • Start: Oceanside, Calif.
  • Twentynine Palms, Calif.
  • Parker, Ariz.
  • Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Socorro, N.M.
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Shreveport, La.
  • Jackson, Miss.
  • Birmingham, Ala.
  • Atlanta, Ga.
  • Columbia, G.a
  • Raleigh, N.C.
  • Richmond, Va.
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Annapolis, Md.
  • Wilmington, Del.
  • Philadelphia, Pa.
  • Princeton, N.J.
  • New York, N.Y.
  • Providence, R.I.
  • End: Portland, Maine

To learn more about The Run for Veterans and O’Toole’s route, check out their Facebook page or visit their website at http://www.therunforveterans.org/. If you would like to support The Run for Veterans, donate here.

Good luck to Sgt. O’Toole and all who join The Run for Veterans! Your dedication to supporting our nation’s veterans is truly an inspiration.

Sarah Camille Hipp, Communications Specialist