Jay Leno Auctions Off Rare Muscle Car to Benefit the USO
Auction houses selling rare and expensive collector cars are usually teeming with excitement, but at Gooding & Company’s Scottsdale, Arizona, auction in January, there was an extra layer of celebrity buzz when late night legend Jay Leno rolled out his prized 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 — with all proceeds benefiting the USO.
The highlight of the auction was Leno’s Challenger. The crowd roared as bidders competed in the one of the most exciting bidding displays Gooding & Company has ever seen.
The bidding started at $50,000, but when the auctioneer finally dropped the gavel at $360,000, the entire auction house stood for applause. However, the giving wasn’t done.
“After the car sold, one of the men who lost the bid for Leno’s car stood up and offered an on-the-spot cash donation for the USO — he would match anyone’s donation up to $100,000,” said USO CEO and President J.D. Crouch II, who attended the event.
Paddles began flying and within moments, another man committed to match the full $100,000. Additional donations totaled $5,625, which means that thanks to Jay Leno and other generous supporters, the USO will receive a total of $565,625.
“We’re overwhelmed by the response that we got from those who attended the auction,” Crouch said. “The funds raised here will go far to advance our goals of expanding our services to men and women in uniform.”
USO Mission Continues in Afghanistan Despite Formal End of Combat
The American combat mission in Afghanistan is officially over. But the USO is still on the ground serving more than 10,000 U.S. troops stationed there.
“The mission has not changed for us,” said USO Senior Vice President of Operations, Alan Reyes. “Troops serving in harm’s way will always be one of our top priorities, so we will continue to serve those troops in Afghanistan and throughout the region.”
If U.S. troops need support, the USO will be there for them. Wherever that may be.
Operation Enduring Freedom officially ended Dec. 28. However, according to the Defense Department, more than 10,800 American troops will remain in Afghanistan through 2015 as part of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
USO centers in the Middle East will stay open as long as there’s a need at the bases they support. There were four fully operational USO centers in Afghanistan at the beginning of February and the USO also has standing operations in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, and has supported the mission of U.S. troops sent to other areas around the region as needed.
Visit USO.org/donate today to pledge your support for America’s troops.
USO Supporting Quarantined Troops Returning From Ebola Mission
Thousands of U.S. troops are stationed far from home every day, but a few hundred of those brave men and women are serving an unconventional mission, isolated as a precautionary measure after duty in West Africa to fight the Ebola outbreak.
And the USO is by their side.
Troops rotating home after deployments to West Africa are being isolated for 21 days in what the military calls controlled monitoring areas (CMAs) at installations in the United States, Germany and Italy. Thousands of troops have deployed and returned from the region with no issues to date.
In Liberia, where about 300 military personnel continue to support the mission to build and support hospitals, the USO is on the ground providing the comforts of home. These items include dedicated satellite service for Internet connectivity, phone cards, health and comfort items and even leisure and recreational equipment.
In the U.S., troops are being monitored at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Fort Hood and Fort Bliss, Texas and Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.
In most cases, groups of 20 to 30 soldiers are isolated at the same time. Subsequent groups cannot have items used by a previous group because of health precautions, so providing multiple sets of supplies has made the operation more challenging.
“If somebody can find a problem, the USO can find a solution,” said Glenn Gibbs, manager of USO Vicenza, who is supporting the CMA site at nearby American-Italian installation Caserma Del Din. “It’s just what the USO does.”
USO/Hire Heroes USA Helps Transitioning Troops in Three Phases
Starting a new career is about the details.
How you describe what you bring to an employer. How an interviewer feels you fit their corporate culture. How you present yourself in person – and even online.
The last of those was a detail Capt. Amelia Campbell picked up during a two-day USO/Hire Heroes USA Workshop in Tacoma, Washington, in November.
“Something that’s really resonated with me … [is] how important it is to actually represent myself in social media,” the 22-year Army veteran said.
Statistically, getting an interview is the hard part. With plenty of job-seeking Americans and college grads looking for work, there’s lots of competition out there, so USO/Hire Heroes USA workshops take time to fine-tune transitioning service members’ resumes to give them the best shot to beat the odds.
Getting through stacks of resumes is difficult because companies are used to having many qualified applicants in today’s economy. So if there are only a few openings, having the strongest resume alone won’t get you an offer. You need to nail the interview, and that means you need to practice.
USO/Hire Heroes USA Workshops and Career Opportunity Days prepare attendees by holding mock interviews with Hire Heroes USA staff or local hiring managers who’ve volunteered their time. The interviewers question the service members about what makes them the right fit for a position. When it’s over, the interviewers provide feedback on how the service member did, and any other applicable tips.
Multiple employers who’ve participated in the mock interview sessions have extended follow-up interview requests and some of those second interviews have led to job offers.
“We definitely want them to have that renewed confidence as they take on the job market,” said Elda Auxiliaire, who manages the program for the USO. “We want them to have that confidence as they sit down with an employer and say ‘I can do this just as well as anyone else.’”
You can help transitioning troops and military spouses start new careers by visiting USO.org/donate today.
The USO and GEICO announced a new worldwide strategic partnership Feb. 12 that will expand GEICO’s support of our mission to lift the spirits of America’s troops and their families.
GEICO will support 14 USO centers and USO programs like Ride 2 Recovery, which provides wounded troops with bikes to help them build hope and confidence through cycling, and Mobile USOs, which serve as centers on wheels.
In addition to funding USO programs, the partnership will also provide opportunities for GEICO to build relationships with USO centers throughout the country and volunteer at USO events that support our military heroes.
“The USO’s commitment to improving the lives of our men and women in uniform and their families is unparalleled,” said Tony Nicely, chairman and CEO of GEICO. “GEICO has been a proud supporter of the USO for years, so we’re very pleased to take our partnership to the next level as a Worldwide Strategic Partner.”
After a Tough Transition, Military Spouse Found a New Home at the USO
There was no smooth transition to military life for Cary Fulladosa, a programs coordinator in the USO’s Japan area office. She’s a new military wife and her first duty station is half a world away from her hometown of Miami.
In addition to being separated from her close-knit family— five siblings included— Fulladosa left behind a job she loved to make the move. Upon arriving, she said she immediately understood why an overseas military community sometimes needs a boost.
“Instantly, I saw the need for a support net for this kind of lifestyle and I knew I wanted to be part of a greater cause to give sustenance to the community I am now a part of,” she said.
After seeing the job posting for the USO, she researched the organization and realized that the USO’s mission to lift the spirits of America’s troops and their families fell in line with her personal pursuits. Fulladosa, who is working towards a degree in psychology, enjoys helping people reach their potential. She felt the USO would be a great fit, so she applied for the opening, got the job and started her new career in June.
Fulladosa says her coworkers are her favorite part of her first nine months on the job.
“They are so positive, empowering and passionate,” she said. “[They] make work feel like I am not getting up every morning for a job, for a paycheck. I am walking into this office to serve a higher purpose with a crew of spirit-lifting warriors. The passion my co-workers express is inspiring.”