Liberty USO, Phillies Provide Surprise Holiday Moment for Two Recently Deployed Troops

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Chief Warrant Officer 2 Eileen Smith’s eyes filled with tears. Capt. Bud Evans shared a long embrace with his son. No matter where you looked, one thing was clear: Liberty USO had created another USO Moment.

The Phillie Phanatic – in his Phanta Claus outfit – handed holiday stockings to two service members who recently returned from Afghanistan on Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. In each stocking was a free trip to Philadelphia Phillies spring training in Clearwater, Fla., including US Airways travel vouchers, hotel accommodations, an informal meet-and-greet with Phillies players and first pitch honors at a game. (Check out video of the event here.)

In addition to the surprise, Phillies personnel, Liberty USO staff and board members and host John Brazer assembled the final Operation Stocking Stuffer (OSS) care packages, which will go to troops serving overseas. The OSS shipments will bring USO Liberty’s care package total to more than 5,000 in 2013.

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.

Ayla Brown Performs for Troops and Families at Nashville Yellow Ribbon Event

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Country singer Ayla Brown preformed in Nashville for Army National Guard troops and Army reservists. USO photos by Joseph A. Lee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — More than 1,500 Army National Guard and Reserve soldiers and their families from 43 states enjoyed an intimate USO performance by country music singer and former American Idol contestant Ayla Brown on Saturday at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center here.

Brown is the oldest daughter of former United States Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.), who also happens to be a colonel in the Army National Guard, so she’s no stranger to the military scene. In fact,  she entertained 15,000 troops at  Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, in November 2010.

“With a grandfather in the Air Force and my father in the Army, an appreciation for the military is something I’ve grown up with,” Brown said. “After moving out here to Nashville, I told the USO that if they ever need me to donate my time, just pick up the phone and call — and here I am.”

Her latest album, written specifically for military families, is called “Heroes and Hometowns.” The seven-song EP features a studio version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” in addition to original, patriotic songs. Fans can purchase her new single – “Pride of America” – through her website or iTunes.

The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program is a congressionally mandated program for soldiers in the deployment cycle. The one- or two-day events feature experts who brief soldiers and their family members on topics such as healthcare, financial readiness, legal issues, employment services, child and youth services, health and wellness, education benefits and veteran’s affairs.

Story and photos by Joseph Andrew Lee, USO Staff Writer

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Brown’s performance got the crowd on its feet.

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Brown took time to meet attendees after her show.

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

Barbecue for the Troops: The Andrews Sisters’ Pumpkin Bread

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 have one submitted by Debbie Fink, Author, ‘Edu-tainer,’ USO Tour Vet: Operation Thanksgiving Eagle and The Little C.H.A.M.P.S – Child Heroes Attached to Military Personnel.

Truth be told, we don’t know if the Andrews Sisters had a favorite pumpkin bread; hence, we renamed this mouth-watering pumpkin bread recipe in their memory!  If the recipe had been around during their USO heyday, it would’ve been their “go-to” Americana treat!

The Andrews Sisters were American icons, known for their close harmonies and endearing performances.  They clocked in nearly 1,000 USO performances over their illustrious careers, lifting the spirits of our troops [and their families] during the first half of the 20th century.

The Andrews Sisters Pumpkin Bread: 

Screen Shot 2013-06-27 at 2.00.38 PM (Makes three small loaves)

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 can pumpkin (15 oz.)
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 ½ – 2 cups chocolate chips (preferably dark chocolate)
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease three small loaf pans with cooking spray.
  3. Lightly flour the pans.
  4. Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl.
  5. Beat them slightly.
  6. Add the sugar.  Mix.
  7. Add the oil and water.  Mix.
  8. Add the pumpkin.  Mix.
  9. Add the baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  10. Add the flour one cup at a time, mixing in between.
  11. Mix very well, until the batter is smooth.
  12. Finally, add the chocolate chips.  Mix in very well.
  13. Pour the mixture into three greased pans.
  14. Bake for 46-60 minutes.  Test with a toothpick to see if the loaves are done.
  15. Stick the toothpick in and pull it right out.  If it’s dry, the bread is done.

Enjoy!

Facebook.com/AuthorDebbieFink
Twitter.com/DebsDailyDose

A Critical 4th of July Mission

I need your help in a critical mission: equipping and supplying our USO Warrior and Family Center at Walter Reed Military Medical Center that’s currently under construction.

The brave troops who will use this wonderful, new center sacrificed so much for our country. We need to make sure they have everything they need to live comfortably during their recovery.

We only have until Ju‌ly 4‌th to raise the funds needed to bring this 16,217-square-foot center to life. I know we can get there but we need you to step up and lead today.

Give back to our wounded troops who’ve given so much to serve our nation. Make your “At One With The Wounded” donation today.

callout-large-v43Thousands of our young men and women are returning from war wounded, ill or injured, and you and the USO are there to comfort them from the moment they’re rushed to a field hospital and through every step of recovery as they prepare for the future.

For our wounded, their families and caregivers, our new center will be a place of healing and recuperation. It will offer every comfort they need, from comforting rest areas and recreation rooms to education centers designed specifically to be springboards to get our troops back to a full and rewarding life, which will help them face the challenges of recovery.

But as you can imagine, it takes a lot to get a state-of-the-art facility of this magnitude up and running. That’s why your participation in our “At One With The Wounded” campaign is absolutely vital.

Click here to make your “At One With The Wounded” donation right now.

Our wounded troops have laid it all on the line for our country. With Ju‌ly 4th fast approaching, I’m hoping you will show your respect for their sacrifices by making a matching gift to this very special effort.

- General Richard B. Myers, USAF (Ret.), Chairman of the Board, USO