Barbecue for the Troops: Spicy Summer Bean Salad

Have you signed up to host a Barbecue for the Troops? We still have Labor Day weekend left! Be sure to use one of our amazing recipes, like this one straight from the front lines! Our troops may not always have a gourmet kitchen, but they have come up with some ingenious ways to cook up a storm!

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Spicy Summer Bean Salad 

Ingredients:
1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans
1 (10 oz.) can corn
1 (10 oz.) can french-cut green beans
1 (10 oz.) can RO*TEL Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies 1 (12 oz) can SPAM Classic, cut into cubes
6 cups cooked rice
1/2 cup bottled Italian salad dressing

Cooking Instruments: Rice Cooker Crock-Pot

Directions:
Preheat Crock-Pot on medium setting. Cook rice in rice cooker. Then combine all ingredients into the Crock-Pot and cook for 1 hour. Stir as needed. Reduce heat on Crock-Pot to low or warm.

Note from the Chef:
Use 2 pouches of microwavable rice if a rice cooker is unavailable.

USO on Wax: Seven Decades Later, Man Finds Uncle’s Wartime Recordings

This will make you smile.

Three years after the USO’s inception, troops were moving fast and furious into the Pacific theater to fight – and eventually win – victory over Japan. But in between those deployments, they were sending messages back home, too.

Yes, a few generations before the now-popular USO/United Through Reading Military Program relationship came to fruition, the USO was facilitating the recording of troops’ messages back home on 78-rpm records.

And according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, two of those records – created in 1944 – were discovered recently at a rummage sale in Milwaukee by a local musician named Steve Cohen:

As he went through them, he made a startling discovery — a mailing envelope that showed his grandmother’s name, Estelle Cohen, as the addressee. In the upper corner it said this was a “living letter,” and Uncle Neil was listed as the sender. …

And here’s the good news: Neil Cohen is 86 and very much alive. Steve visits him once a week at the Milwaukee Catholic Home.

You can find out how Steve Cohen shared the surprise with his uncle – and hear the audio from the record – by clicking here.

–Story by USO Story Development

On the Way Up: Construction Continues at the Second USO Warrior and Family Center in Bethesda

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Sparks were flying – from welder’s torches, at least – earlier this month when we visited the future site of the USO Warrior and Family Center in Bethesda, Md.

The 16,217-square-foot building on the campus of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is on track for a Spring 2014 opening.

-Photos by Eric Brandner, USO Director of Story Development

Medal of Honor Recipient Carter Wants to Highlight PTSD Issues

Army Staff Sgt. Ty Michael Carter receives the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama on Monday at the White House. Photo courtesy of the Army

Army Staff Sgt. Ty Michael Carter receives the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama on Monday at the White House. Photo courtesy of the Army

Army Staff Sgt. Ty Michael Carter became the eighth Afghanistan War vet to receive the Medal of Honor on Monday at the White House. While his actions set him apart, it’s also notable that he used his platform to talk about the post-traumatic stress issues he’s dealt with after returning home.

Carter – who was honored by the USO last year at the USO of Metropolitan New York’s Armed Forces Gala and Gold Medal Dinner – has spoken up in recent months about his struggle to readjust since his return home. 

“Know that a soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress is one of the most passionate, dedicated men or women you’ll ever meet,” Carter said during Monday’s ceremony. “Know that they are not damaged. They are simply burdened with living what others did not.”

USO Warrior and Family Care has several programs dedicated to assist the tens of thousands of troops struggling with PTSD on their road to recovery. If you know someone who needs help, click here.

Coast Guard Squad Wins Houston Dynamo Player-Hosted Soccer Tournament

The Coast Guard squad - in orange jerseys - pose with Houston Dynamo players Tally Hall, top left, and Brad Davis, bottom right, after their victory Saturday. USO photo

The Coast Guard squad – in orange jerseys – pose with Houston Dynamo players Tally Hall, top left, and Brad Davis, bottom right, after their victory Saturday. USO photo

Professional athletes are going above and beyond to support their local troops, and recently they found an excellent partner in USO Houston.

Houston Dynamo midfielder and captain Brad Davis and goalkeeper Tally Hall – founders of Banded Brigade Outdoors – hosted a four-a-side soccer tournament for local troops last week. The tournament included six teams: five from active-duty services plus a veteran squad.

Soldiers from the Army Reserve’s 75th Training Command competed against airmen from the 147th Refueling Wing, Marines from 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, sailors from Navy Operations Support Command, Coasties from U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Houston and veterans from Lone Star Veterans Association.

The opening rounds of the tournament, presented by Direct Energy in partnership with Banded Brigade Outdoors and USO Houston, took place Aug. 14 on the Dynamo practice field at Houston Amateur Sports Park . The Marines and Coasties emerged as the top two teams.

“This four-a-side soccer tournament was a terrific display of the esprit de corps of our service members,” said Elizabeth Vallette, director of USO Houston. “The competition was intense, but as you’d expect, the troops were all professional and good sports. It’s gratifying to see several local organizations – Direct Energy, Banded Brigade Outdoors, Houston Dynamo and USO Houston – come together and pool our resources collaboratively around the goal of lifting the spirits of our troops.”

The championship game was held after the Dynamo game at BBVA Compass Stadium on Saturday, where the Coast Guard claimed a 1-0 victory. As a reward, the Coast Guard squad will be treated to a December duck hunt by Banded Brigade Outdoors. USO Houston will support that event, too.

“We at BBO enjoyed this event tremendously,” Davis said. “It was great to see our service members out on the field competing and enjoying themselves.  We enjoyed the camaraderie and the banter that was going on between all the branches and look forward to future events!”

–Story by Joseph Andrew Lee, USO staff writer