Cast Members from “Being Mary Jane” Visit Troops in San Diego on USO Tour

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Some of the stars of of BET’s “Being Mary Jane” took time to visit troops Tuesday at Naval Base San Diego as part of a USO tour.

The group — which included actors Richard Roundtree, B.J. Britt and Aaron Spears — spent the bulk of their day with sailors and their families, signing autographs, posing for photos and even taking a tour of the base’s facilities.

It wasn’t the first time “Being Mary Jane” cast members hung out with troops at a USO event. Some of the show’s actors stopped by the Mobile USO to send messages of thanks to service members at The BET Experience in Los Angeles last June. The San Diego stop was also part of BET’s celebration of Black History Month, which kicked off with a new episode of “Being Mary Jane” on Feb. 3.

The cast members and attendees shared their experiences on Twitter, too:

14 Military Facts about American Presidents

Thirty-one of the 43 men who’ve served as President of the United States also served in the military. Here are 14 military facts about men who rose to the rank of commander-in-chief.

#1

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USO archives

The USO owes it’s creation to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who tasked six interested nonprofits to form a new organization to help America’s troops in the lead-up to World War II.

#2

Teddy Roosevelt is the only president to receive the Medal of Honor. It was awarded 103 years after his actions in the Spanish-American War . On Jan. 16, 2001, then-President Bill Clinton held a ceremony in the Roosevelt Room of the White House to present the medal to Roosevelt’s relatives for his actions during the 1898 Battle of San Juan Hill. Roosevelt was installed as vice president in 1901 and ascended to the presidency just six months later when then-President William McKinley was assassinated.

#3

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Courtesy of the Department of Defense.

Former-President George W. Bush christened the USO Warrior and Family Center at Bethesda, Maryland, last March. He also spoke at the USO Gala in Washington in 2008.

#4

GHW Bush 2010

USO photo

Of course, he wasn’t the first President Bush. Former President George H. W. Bush — a former Navy pilot — spoke fondly about the USO during a May 2010 forum for C-SPAN. “As a young Navy pilot, the USO was a home away from home for me,” the 41st president said.

#5

Photo via Scripps Howard Foundation Wire.

Photo via Scripps Howard Foundation Wire

President Barack Obama and the National Endowment of the Arts presented the USO with the National Medal of Arts on Feb. 13, 2012, to mark the organization’s 70-plus years of providing excellence in entertainment to America’s troops and their families. The USO is the only military nonprofit to date to receive the honor.

#6

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Photo via the Reagan Foundation

Former President Ronald Reagan and fellow former President Gerald Ford bracket USO mainstay Bob Hope in this Oct. 17, 1981, photo at an event at the Washington Hilton marking the organization’s 40th anniversary. Reagan had survived an assassination attempt at the same hotel just seven months earlier.

#7

James Buchanan is the only president to serve in the American military but never become an officer. He’s also the only president to date to be (1) a lifelong bachelor and (2) born in the state of Pennsylvania.

#8

The pen and other mementos from then-President Jimmy Carter's signing of the USO charter are on display at the USO's Arlington, Virginia, offices. USO photo

The pen and other items from then-President Jimmy Carter’s signing of the USO charter are displayed at the USO’s Arlington, Virginia, office. USO photo

On Dec. 20, 1979, then-President Jimmy Carter — a Navy lieutenant from 1943-53 — signed the USO’s official Congressional charter. Among other operating provisions, the charter establishes the President of the United States as the USO’s honorary chairman.

#9

USO photo by Joseph Andrew Lee

USO photo by Joseph Andrew Lee

Former President Bill Clinton hosted a USO care package assembly event in the spring of 2012 in Washington as part of the Clinton Global Initiative University program. The event brought out the 42nd president, his daughter, Chelsea Clinton, a few NFL players and hundreds of college students to assemble Operation USO Care Packages to send to troops.

#10

USO archives

USO archives

Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower is one of 10 Americans who’ve been promoted to the rank of five-star general. He’s also the last person to be elected president without having been elected to any previous office.

#11

Twelve generals have been elected president, including a string of five-consecutive men from 1865 to 1885: Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield and Chester A. Arthur. Eisenhower was the last general to be elected to the nation’s top office.

#12

One of the USO’s newest centers is at the airport named for our 35th president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The USO opened its state-of-the-art center at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport last fall. Kennedy was a Navy lieutenant during World War II, receiving a Navy and Marine Corps Medal and a Purple Heart for his actions.

#13

Then-President Harry S Truman gave the USO an honorable discharge on Dec. 31, 1947, formally shuttering the organization’s centers around the world to coincide with the perceived lack of need after World War II. The USO was re-activated in January of 1951 — while Truman was still in office — to serve troops during the Korean War.

#14

While most presidents who previously donned an American uniform were Army men (or members of militias), the Navy has dominated the White House the last 50-plus years. Six of the last 10 presidents have Navy ties, with four of them (Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon and Ford) serving as officers in the Navy Reserve.

How the USO, Joining Forces and FTD are Bringing Valentine’s Day Moments to the Military

A soldier holds up a sign at USO Colorado Springs. USO photo

A soldier holds up a sign at USO Colorado Springs. USO photo

Many Amercan troops will be thousands of miles away from their loved ones this Valentine’s Day. With this in mind, the USO, Joining Forces and FTD are teaming to show these military families how much we appreciate their sacrifices.

As part of the USO’s Every Moment Counts campaign, USO centers across the United States are receiving a floral arrangement, courtesy of FTD, as a symbol of our nation’s love and enduring support. Every American can add their voice to this display of support, too, by going on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram this weekend and using the #USOmoments hashtag to send messages to America’s troops and their families.

The USO is also inviting Americans to send USO Love Notes to our troops by visiting the USO’s Love from America site. Visitors to the site can also learn about the challenges troops and their families face and what they as civilians can do to help.

Too often, troops miss out on family dinners, date nights, birthdays and the even the births their children. With this in mind, the USO created the Every Moment Counts campaign to rally Americans to show their gratitude by helping the USO create priceless moments for our troops and their families.

“The USO is proud of its collaboration with Joining Forces and FTD, and this synergy shows our troops how much we care wherever they may be serving,” said J.D. Crouch, CEO & President of the USO. “We want the 30,000 troops and military family members who pass through our doors each day to feel closer to home and know that we are always by their side, especially on this Valentine’s Day.”

Channing Tatum, Adam Rodriguez and Nick Zano Wrap USO Tour to Afghanistan

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Actors Channing Tatum, Adam Rodriguez and Nick Zano wrapped the USO’s first 2015 entertainment tour to Afghanistan over the weekend. The six-day handshake tour was the first USO experience for the trio, which spent time with more than 1,500 troops, including these folks from Oregon.

In all, Tatum, Rodriguez and Zano visited seven bases downrange and the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan.

“My trip with the USO was a once-in-a-lifetime window into the sacrifice and duty that these brave soldiers and their families devote every day to,” said Tatum, whose “Magic Mike XXL” will hit theaters this summer. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the experience. Safe travels home and until then, keep holding it down there and in every other place that flies the stars and stripes.”

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What’s Your Favorite USO Moment? Share it With Us Today

The USO creates roughly 30,000 moments for troops and their families around the world every day. From airports to far-flung bases. From last-second weddings to surprise homecomings. From connecting dads-to-be from Afghanistan into the delivery room to taking care of the families of the fallen. Wherever our troops and their families are, the USO is always by their side.

So what’s your favorite USO moment? Tell us today at usomoments.org.

New Center at SeaTac Airport Allows USO Northwest to Better Serve Troops and Families

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USO Northwest staff and volunteers welcomed community officials and local military leadership for the grand opening of their new 7,500-square-foot center in the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington state on Wednesday.

Home to one of the largest concentrations of military personnel in the United States, USO Northwest provides critical support to more than 600,000 active-duty military and their families annually in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska.

Efforts to transform the center began in 2012 with the launch of USO Northwest’s Enduring Support Campaign. That push brought in donations from more than 400 groups, businesses and individual donors, ultimately netting over $1.5 million in funds and in-kind gifts to make the expanded center possible. Three of the largest contributors were the Employee Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound, the USO Northwest Board of Directors and the Ellison Foundation.

“This was a day that I could only dream about,” said Hossein Khorram, Treasurer of the USO Northwest Board of Directors. “When we started going through the process a few years ago, this was still just a dream. The money was hard to come by, but we got amazing donors who really stood up to make this all possible.”

From a full-service kitchen to an enlarged luggage storage space and enhanced entertainment amenities, the new center will provide a touch of home for service members and their families as they travel through the SeaTac Airport and beyond. The center will continue to offer travel assistance, sleeping facilities, showers, meals and snacks, a lounge, gaming equipment, free Wi-Fi, laptop commuters and a separate family room.All of that will now be delivered in a more comfortable and inviting space.

Highlights of the new center include the installation of the original teakwood decking from the World War II battleship USS Colorado (BB-45) as well as a Patriot Wall Brick Campaign, which features over 300 commemorative bricks from loved ones to those who previously or currently serve in the military.

“This is where it happens and this is the pointed edge of the spear of the USO,” said Dr. J.D. Crouch ll, CEO and President of the USO. “This is where we meet the men and women and their families who we are dedicated to supporting. It’s places like this all around the world … which allows us to always be by their side.”

When the ribbon was finally cut, local contributors and military personnel were invited to tour the new center,  which is located above the Delta Air Lines ticketing counters on the mezzanine level. Port of Seattle Port Commissioners Bill Bryant and Courtney Gregoire and President of the Employee Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound Robert Malone also spoke at Wednesday’s ceremony.

“Our organization made a commitment almost three years ago to never allow another military member to be turned away at SeaTac Airport because our center was too small. Today that commitment becomes a reality,” said USO Northwest Executive Director and retired Navy Cmdr. Don Leingang. “This new USO center will allow us to provide no less than the very best services to our military and their family members.”

With support from USO Northwest staff and volunteers, the new center will continue to be open to visitors 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.