Heidi Murkoff, left, laughs with Gretchen Stradley during a group baby shower at U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria in Germany on March 13. The USO and Murkoff, author of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” hosted the shower for over 70 expectant moms. U.S. Army photo
USO Celebrates More Than 70 Military Moms With Baby Shower in Germany
Whether you’re having your first child or your third, the experience is a cause for celebration. For some military moms-to-be, sharing the experience with extended family is not always an option.
To help fill that void, the USO, in partnership with the What to Expect Foundation and best-selling author Heidi Murkoff, hosted a Special Delivery baby shower for more than 70 military moms in Germany.
“It’s never easy being a mom, especially for first time,” Murkoff said in an Army.mil story. “But, these families and these women are so far-flung and so separated from their net of support; they’re completely on their own.”
The March 13 baby shower at U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria featured food, gifts and games in addition to a Q&A session with Murkoff. The event also gave expecting moms a chance to form bonds and friendships with each other.
Valerie Pamphile said she attended because she wanted to be around other pregnant women because studies show that “when you’re around other women at your gestational age, you thrive.”
You can help the USO create special moments for military moms by visiting USO.org/donate.
Mother of Fallen Soldier Finds a Moment of Solace Through Visit to USO
Vicki Dickinson doesn’t remember much about the two years after her son was killed. Between the funeral, the tears and the coping, everything felt like a blur.
Army Staff Sgt. Michael Dickinson hugs his mother, Vicki. Photo courtesy of Vicki Dickinson
But she does recall one moment in perfect detail. While walking through an airport about a year after Army Staff Sgt. Michael Dickinson II’s 2006 death in Iraq, she visited her first USO.
Michael, a Battle Creek, Michigan, native, told his mother about his visits to USO centers around the world.
“He would always try to find the USO and [relax],” she said of her son, who was killed in a firefight nine days before he was supposed to come home. “And he’d say, ‘They’ve always got great snacks, things to drink. They’ve got nice comfortable places to lie down, take a little nap if you need it.’”
So when she had a few minutes between flights that day, Vicki went to a USO airport center to see for herself. She walked into the center and told a volunteer about her son and his fondness for the USO.
After a volunteer offered her a quick tour and refreshments, Vicki settled into one of the cozy couches and quietly pictured her son resting on a similar couch a few years prior.
“[I thought] ‘I can see him here. I can see him on that couch, playing a game,’” she said. “It made me feel good that my son got to do that. That he knew that he was cared about.”
The USO Spring Troop Visit led by Admiral James A. Winnefeld Jr., the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, brought lots of smiles to troops stationed around the world during an eight-day, seven country USO tour. Troops stationed at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, got a short reprieve from their duties on March 6 to enjoy a USO show and to take a group photo with the athletes and entertainers on the tour. USO photo
Vice Chairman Takes All-Star Cast on USO Tour Around the World
Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, led a full roster of entertainers, celebrities and sports stars on a USO tour around the world in March.
NFL players Andrew Luck, Dwayne Allen and David DeCastro, Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, musicians Phillip Phillips, Diana DeGarmo and Ace Young, actors Dennis Haysbert and Jason “Wee Man” Acuna and Miss America 2015 Kira Kazantsev all circled the globe with the admiral to greet and entertain troops and their families.
The group visited troops in Germany, Italy, Bahrain, the USS Carl Vinson and the USS New York in the Arabian Gulf, Afghanistan, Diego Garcia, South Korea and Hawaii before closing out the tour at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.
“It was a huge honor of mine to get to go overseas and thank them in person,” Kazantsev told DoD News. “I’m so honored that I got to be a part of it. This crew and the cast were amazing. We were like a family.”
By visiting USO.org/donate today, your support will help the USO deliver top-notch entertainment to troops and families all over the world.
USO Tour Vet’s Victory in Checkers Challenge Benefits Troops and Families
Country music star Kellie Pickler performs a USO show for troops stationed in Italy as part of the 2014 USO Holiday Tour. USO Photo by Dave Gatley
Country music star Kellie Pickler, an eight-time USO tour veteran, topped fellow musician Thomas Rhett in the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Country Checkers Challenge on Saturday.
After Pickler’s big victory in Arlington, Texas, the Cracker Barrel and ACM‘s Party for a Cause presented her team with a $25,000 check that will help support USO programs and services. Rhett, who played for Disabled American Veterans, received a $10,000 donation for the organization.
After presenting the trophy to wounded warrior and retired Marine Spanky Gibson, Pickler told CountryWeekly.com that her team’s victory was great, but there were more important things at stake.
“It’s not about us, or winning,” she said. “It’s about raising awareness and money for a great cause.”
USO Opens New Facility at Seattle’s SeaTac Airport
The USO was joined by local officials and military leaders as it welcomed guests into its new center at SeaTac Airport in February.
From a full-service kitchen to enhanced entertainment amenities, the 7,500 square-foot center will provide a touch of home for service members and their families as they travel through the airport and beyond. With major Army, Navy and Air Force installations nearby, the region is home to one of the largest concentrations of military personnel in the United States.
“This is the pointed edge of the spear of the USO,” said J.D. Crouch II, 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 allow us to always be by their side.”
With support from USO Northwest staff and volunteers, the new center will be open to visitors 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.