Country ‘Idol’ Scotty McCreery Shows His Support for the Troops at N.D. Concert

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MINOT, N.D. – While most 19-year-olds are busy mapping out their futures, “American Idol” Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery has a pretty good idea what he wants to be when he grows up.  In fact, he’s already on the path to becoming one of today’s hottest country music artists. 

But when asked what he would be doing if he wasn’t performing, the Mercury recording artist replied “I think at 19, most people are asking themselves that question, so I don’t really know.”

But there’s one thing McCreery is certain of: because of the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform – many of whom aren’t much older than him – we have the freedom to make those life choices. It’s one of the reasons he partnered with the USO to perform his first USO concert at Minot Air Force Base, N.D.  Well, that and his deep military family ties. Both of his grandfathers served during World War II, one in the Navy and the other in the Air Force.

More than 1,000 troops and military families came out last Wednesday to enjoy the free USO concert, where the young country star took advantage of the opportunity to thank troops and their families for all their sacrifices.  

–Story by Sharee Posey, USO Senior Communications Specialist

Military Families Can Benefit From Tax-Free Shopping Weekend

Attention military families, entrepreneurs and veteran students: Is it time to upgrade your home computer? Time to buy a new laptop, some back-to-school clothes, or books or school supplies for the family? Whatever your consumer needs, it’s likely you won’t be charged sales tax if you get out and buy the items you need this weekend.

In Louisiana, home of Barksdale Air Force Base, Fort Polk and New Orleans Naval Air Station, all purchases less than $2,500 are tax-free. If you live in North Carolina, home of Fort Bragg, Camp Lejeune, Cherry Point and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, you can purchase computer equipment up to $3,500 tax-free.

For all you inspired entrepreneurs, once you get your new gear, you’ll want to check out USO partner Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families.

Dates for the tax-free weekend vary by state. Check out the incentives offered in your state at: http://www.parade.com/56642/leahingram/16-states-have-sales-tax-holidays-in-august/

–Story by Joseph Andrew Lee, USO Staff Writer

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Country Newcomer RaeLynn Talks Tour, ‘The Voice’ and Life in a Military Family

Country artist RaeLynn stopped by the USO Warrior and Family Center at Fort Belvoir, Va., on Sunday afternoon to meet troops and families and give an acoustic performance. USO photo by Doug Van Sant

Country singer/songwriter RaeLynn stopped by the USO Warrior and Family Center at Fort Belvoir, Va., on Sunday afternoon to meet troops and families and give an acoustic performance. USO photo by Doug Van Sant

RaeLynn – who finished third on Blake Shelton’s team during the second season of “The Voice” – stopped by the USO Warrior and Family Center at Fort Belvoir, Va., on Sunday to hang out with troops and their families. Her visit included an acoustic performance, along with some photos and autographs.

The 19-year-old Baytown, Texas, native – who is currently on tour with country stars Miranda Lambert, Dierks Bentley and Kix Brooks – also took time Monday morning for a Q&A with the USO where she discussed her brother’s service in the Army’s special forces, learning the ropes of the country music industry and what it’s like to sing her own songs in front of big crowds.

What was your experience at Fort Belvoir like?

It was such a great experience. It was my first time to ever go to a military base and sing and be with the soldiers. … I really appreciated it because my brother’s in the military.

What stuck out to you from playing at Fort Belvoir and visiting the troops?

My favorite interactions were with the kids. … To see when you come and sing for them how excited they get, because people don’t come [on base] a lot.

Your brother is an Army green beret. How has that affected your life and how has it affected your family?

It’s been hard because we haven’t got to see him much in the last two years. He’s about to [deploy to Okinawa, Japan]. … It’s just been a learning thing for us because that’s his dream: just like it’s my dream to be a singer, it’s his dream to be in the Army, so we just have to support him. We’re going to miss him, but that just comes with it, you know?

What’s the most surprising thing people might not know about “The Voice” competition?

I think the most surprising thing is people think that show is just so competitive and that everyone’s just on pins and needles and everybody’s just trying to beat out each other. But really, that show is just a big family. We all wanted the best for each other. … We all still talk to each other to this day. … I’m really close to my friend Ashley De La Rosa, she was on my season. I’m good friends with [“The Voice” Season 3 winner] Cassadee Pope, and then the winner of my Season 2 Jermaine Paul.

How far away is your debut album?

We’re working on it. I’m hoping for early next year. … I’m going to radio in about a month-and-a-half. We’ll be picking a single and then we’ll be hitting radio.

You signed a music publishing deal in April and you’ve been working on your debut album. What’s it been like to get a glimpse of the business side of the industry?

When I was younger, I would just listen to the radio and watch people perform, and I thought it was just like a hobby. So one thing about being in the business is that there’s a strategy to getting songs up on the charts. There’s a strategy when people are up on stage. … It’s not just a hobby. It’s a job.

What’s it been like on tour so far?

It’s been awesome. I’ve had a great time with Miranda. … It’s really cool to see people take your music in. It’s really cool to play songs that you’ve written. My songs are kind of like my babies. When I sing them out, it’s kind of nerve-wracking. … It’s been really cool to see how receptive the crowds have been. They love it, and that’s just great.

–Interview by Eric Brandner, USO Director of Story Development

Vice President and Dr. Biden Mingle with Troops at USO Hawaii Barbecue

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Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, attended their second USO-affiliated event in as many months Saturday when they dropped in on a barbecue in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

USO Hawaii hosted the event where the Bidens mingled with approximately 500 troops and family members. The Bidens addressed the assembled guests and talked about their personal connection to the military through their son Beau Biden, who is a major in the Delaware Army National Guard.

Due to security, guests had to arrive several hours early. However, the USO had plenty of activities for the kids in attendance to pass the time, including face painters, music, a hula school performance and bounce houses.

“The USO is such a great organization,” Dr. Biden told the crowd, according to the Armed Forces Press Service. “I’ve worked with them many times, and they do really wonderful things.”

–Story by USO Story Development

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Barbecue For the Troops: Chicken Salad a la Rogers

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’re featuring a caesar salad recipe found in the 1993 USO Celebrity Cookbook by singer & actor Kenny Rogers!

Chicken Salad a la Rogers

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of pouched chicken (white meat)
  • 3 dill pickles (non-kosher), skinned
  • 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup of slivered almonds
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced or 1/4 cup sweet onion cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • Kosher salt and ground pepper
  • 1 cup prepared or homemade mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons strained freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Instructions:

  1. Pull chicken from the bone, rather than cutting it
  2. Peel pickles with potato peeler and chop
  3. In mixing bowl mix together chicken, celery and scallions
  4. In small bowl whisk together mayo, lemon juice and mustard
  5. Gently stir dressing into mixing bowl
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve on bed of lettuce

USO, NASCAR Assemble 2,500 With You All the Way Kits for Children of Deployed Troops

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The USO partnered with The NASCAR Foundation twice in the last two months to host With You All the Way Kit assembly events as part of the second-annual “NASCAR: An American Salute” campaign. The kits will be distributed free of charge to children of deployed troops.

The events – on June 8 at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., and July 5 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, Fla. – produced a total of 2,500 kits.

-Photos courtesy of NASCAR