Lockheed Martin Helps the USO Assemble 7,500 Care Packages at AT&T National Golf Tournament

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Lockheed Martin, a USO worldwide strategic partner, found a way to include our organization in this week’s AT&T National golf tournament at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.

As the official military sponsor of PGA Tour star Tiger Woods’ annual tournament, Lockheed  hosts troops from the Washington area in its on-site pavilion. Lockheed is also encouraging spectators to stop by the pavilion and assemble an Operation USO Care Package that will eventually end up in the hands of an American serviceman or woman downrange.

Lockheed Martin’s goal is for pavilion guests assemble 7,500 care packages by the end of the tournament Sunday.

–Story by USO Story Development

Barbecue for the Troops: The Andrews Sisters’ Pumpkin Bread

Have you signed up to host a Barbecue for the Troops for the summer yet? Be sure to use one of our amazing recipes!

Today we have one submitted by Debbie Fink, Author, ‘Edu-tainer,’ USO Tour Vet: Operation Thanksgiving Eagle and The Little C.H.A.M.P.S – Child Heroes Attached to Military Personnel.

Truth be told, we don’t know if the Andrews Sisters had a favorite pumpkin bread; hence, we renamed this mouth-watering pumpkin bread recipe in their memory!  If the recipe had been around during their USO heyday, it would’ve been their “go-to” Americana treat!

The Andrews Sisters were American icons, known for their close harmonies and endearing performances.  They clocked in nearly 1,000 USO performances over their illustrious careers, lifting the spirits of our troops [and their families] during the first half of the 20th century.

The Andrews Sisters Pumpkin Bread: 

Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 2.00.38 PM (Makes three small loaves)

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 can pumpkin (15 oz.)
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 ½ – 2 cups chocolate chips (preferably dark chocolate)
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease three small loaf pans with cooking spray.
  3. Lightly flour the pans.
  4. Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl.
  5. Beat them slightly.
  6. Add the sugar.  Mix.
  7. Add the oil and water.  Mix.
  8. Add the pumpkin.  Mix.
  9. Add the baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  10. Add the flour one cup at a time, mixing in between.
  11. Mix very well, until the batter is smooth.
  12. Finally, add the chocolate chips.  Mix in very well.
  13. Pour the mixture into three greased pans.
  14. Bake for 46-60 minutes.  Test with a toothpick to see if the loaves are done.
  15. Stick the toothpick in and pull it right out.  If it’s dry, the bread is done.

Enjoy!

Facebook.com/AuthorDebbieFink
Twitter.com/DebsDailyDose

A Critical 4th of July Mission

I need your help in a critical mission: equipping and supplying our USO Warrior and Family Center at Walter Reed Military Medical Center that’s currently under construction.

The brave troops who will use this wonderful, new center sacrificed so much for our country. We need to make sure they have everything they need to live comfortably during their recovery.

We only have until Ju‌ly 4‌th to raise the funds needed to bring this 16,217-square-foot center to life. I know we can get there but we need you to step up and lead today.

Give back to our wounded troops who’ve given so much to serve our nation. Make your “At One With The Wounded” donation today.

callout-large-v43Thousands of our young men and women are returning from war wounded, ill or injured, and you and the USO are there to comfort them from the moment they’re rushed to a field hospital and through every step of recovery as they prepare for the future.

For our wounded, their families and caregivers, our new center will be a place of healing and recuperation. It will offer every comfort they need, from comforting rest areas and recreation rooms to education centers designed specifically to be springboards to get our troops back to a full and rewarding life, which will help them face the challenges of recovery.

But as you can imagine, it takes a lot to get a state-of-the-art facility of this magnitude up and running. That’s why your participation in our “At One With The Wounded” campaign is absolutely vital.

Click here to make your “At One With The Wounded” donation right now.

Our wounded troops have laid it all on the line for our country. With Ju‌ly 4th fast approaching, I’m hoping you will show your respect for their sacrifices by making a matching gift to this very special effort.

- General Richard B. Myers, USAF (Ret.), Chairman of the Board, USO

Team USO Runner Inspired by Fallen Soldier’s Sacrifice

Kenneth Bean graduated high school in the small town of Mansfield, Mo., alongside a school record 41 of his peers, just one year ahead of his friend and fellow baseball player Robert Pharris.

Kenneth Bean with his granddaughters after the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon. Photos courtesy of Kenneth Bean

Kenneth Bean with his granddaughters after the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon. Photos courtesy of Kenneth Bean

Pharris was the son of a farmer and a Marine who served in both Korea and Vietnam. He was the grandson of a farmer and World War II vet, and the great-grandson of a farmer and World War I vet. Once retired from the Army, Pharris deployed with the Missouri National Guard at 48 years old to serve alongside his son Benjamin — a Marine — in Afghanistan.

In January 2011, Pharris was attacked and killed by insurgents while serving as an agricultural specialist, helping to rebuild the local Afghan economy.

Bean – who’d just been diagnosed with obesity and high blood pressure when he heard about Pharris’ death – was greatly affected by the loss.

“What did I do to deserve one more day than him?” he asked himself.

Motivated by the service and sacrifice of the Pharris family, Bean decided to lose the weight and live a better life for himself, so he can be around longer his own family.

“I was up to almost 270 pounds,” he said. “The doctor said I had high blood pressure and he was going to put me on medication for it. It really worried me and I asked him if I could try something else instead.”

Bean began a strict cardio regimen. He located a place about five minutes from his home in Columbus, Ohio, where he knew he could get the kind of workout he needed. A hilly part of the countryside he now calls his haven.

“I knew I was going to need hills, so I found hills. Lots of them,” he said. “And the more I ran, the more I found I could run longer and farther.”

Bean began posting his longer and longer run results on Facebook where his friends and family encouraged him. A former supervisor from Wright-Patterson Airfield saw Bean had run for two straight hours and asked Bean if he was training for the Air Force Marathon.

“I laughed at him and said, ‘No way! I have no desire to run a marathon.’”

But the supervisor pressed on.

“’What about a half?’ he asked me. ‘Would you try a half?’ And that’s how I first ended up running a half-marathon,” Bean said.

Robert Pharris, who grew up with Bean, was killed in Afghanistan in 2011.

Robert Pharris, who grew up with Bean, was killed in Afghanistan in 2011.

Bean didn’t have a detailed plan, but he started training with the goal of running a half marathon in honor of his friend. Unfortunately when it came time to register for the race, it was sold out. He was heartbroken.

He contacted the race officials and they suggested he go through a charity sponsor.

“I looked at their charity sponsors and immediately the USO stood out,” he said. “It was the obvious choice [considering the relevance of the Pharris family’s service] and I thought wow — you know, this is really cool.”

Bean signed up with Team USO and pledged to raise $3,000 in exchange for a free training plan and a website where his friends and family could donate. With the support of his family, he completed his first marathon at the 2012 Air Force Marathon.

“My wife, family and friends have been supportive from day one,” Bean said. “though [they were] a little hesitant in understanding why, exactly, I was doing this.

“After reading some of my training journals, however, my wife started to get it, which even made our relationship stronger, and now when I go out on a training run … she’s coming along and she has even started to help coach me.”

It’s been a little over two years since he first began training in the memory of his friend. Bean is only 10 pounds short of his goal weight of 210, and he has completed a marathon and raised more than $1,000 for troops and their families.

Bean plans to run four races this year, all for the USO and Pharris’ memory. His final race will be the Marine Corps Marathon in Arlington, Va., this October, where his wife, children and grandchildren plan to be at the finish line to cheer him in.

“I am matching my donations up to $100,” he posted on his Team USO fundraiser page. “Please, help me, help the USO for the troops. They are far away from home.”

–Story by Joseph Andrew Lee, USO Staff Writer

PTSD Resources: Where to Turn When You Need Help

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean troops and families trying to cope with the anguish of war memories or even mental and emotional trauma from traumatic brain injuries will be forgotten.

Here is a list of resources for both troops and families dealing with PTSD.

And as always, if you or someone you know needs to talk to someone immediately, call the Military Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact them online at militarycrisisline.net.

  • OEF Crisis Hotline: Hosted by the Army in Afghanistan for troops deployed downrange, personnel are fielding phone calls and answering email around the clock. Click here for contact information.
  • USO Caregivers Conferences: Held on or near different military installations around the United States, these USO conferences discuss caregivers’ issues like resiliency, communication, compassion fatigue and how to talk to children after a parent has been injured.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs: Not only do they host the Military Crisis Line, but they can also direct you to counseling options and a host of other resources. Visit them at mentalhealth.va.gov.
  • USO/Stronger Families Oxygen Seminars: This Bothell, Wash.-based nonprofit helps couples – especially military couples affected by injuries or long separations – open the lines of communication. Their Oxygen Seminars have become a key partner program of USO Warrior and Family Care.
  • USO/Ride 2 Recovery: Ride 2 Recovery – in partnership with the USO – holds challenge events for wounded, ill and injured troops to both boost camaraderie and build physical stamina and confidence.
  • Family readiness officers, family support groups and family support centers: While some may be more robust than others, every branch of the military has family support services. These officers and groups are huge information resources. Contact your command to find out what groups are available for your family.
  • Aggregate lists: Along the same lines as the VA site, the Washington Post has an easy-to-navigate rundown of warning signs, benefits and services and how to find help.
  • If in doubt: Call the Military Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact them online at militarycrisisline.net.

–Story by USO Story Development

OEF Crisis Hotline Gives Stressed Troops an Outlet Downrange

More than 1,000 runners came out for the OEF Crisis Hotline 5K, hosted May 24 at six USO Centers in Afghanistan. USO photos by Eric Raum

More than 1,000 runners came out for the OEF Crisis Hotline 5K, hosted May 24 at six USO Centers across Afghanistan. USO photos by Eric Raum

It was a run for those who feel trapped.

Six USO centers in Afghanistan hosted more than 1,000 total runners for a 5K on May 24 to promote the OEF Crisis Hotline, a downrange-based call center troops can contact if they are dealing with stress or other mental health issues. The hotline has two mental health professionals on duty 24 hours a day.

The USO – which has been advertising the hotline to troops via posters at downrange centers – provided prizes for the top three male and female finishers.

Sgt. Kristian Patino of the Army’s 254th Medical Detachment said the hotline fills a void downrange and is modeled off a similar system the Department of Veterans Affairs operates stateside.

“It is peer support in its purest form,” Patino said. “You have service members here in Afghanistan going through the same struggles and dealing with the same issues as whoever would be calling in, so they are able to connect with the caller and relate to them.”

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The hotline – which was originally run by the 254th Medical Detachment in Kandahar – is now operated by the Army’s 85th Combat Operational Stress Control Detachment out of Bagram.

Patino believes the hotline makes a difference.

“One instance, a woman called in and was very frantic, in a complete panic and crying,” Patino said. “When we were done, it was a day and night shift. We worked through relaxation techniques and talked through what was troubling her.”

Troops downrange can reach the OEF Crisis Hotline the following ways:

Stateside troops and veterans can reach the VA’s Military Crisis Line by dialing 1-800-273-8255 and then pressing 1. Europe-based troops can reach the Military Crisis Line by dialing 00800 1273 8255 on regular phones or 118 on DSN lines.

–Story by Eric Raum and Eric Brandner, USO