USO Volunteer Steps In to Help Stranded Soldier Get Some Shut-eye

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Lt. Col. M. DeLisa Deutsch poses during her holiday in Germany. (Photo courtesy Lt. Col. M. DeLisa Deutsch)

When Lt. Col. M. DeLisa Deutsch planned to meet up with Army friends in Germany over the holidays, an overnight layover near Washington, D.C., wasn’t part of her original travel itinerary.

Continued delays on her initial flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Dulles International Airport outside Washington — where she would catch her international connection to Germany — left Deutsch facing an unexpected overnight stay at Dulles with nowhere to spend the night.

Luckily, USO Dulles Lounge volunteer and veteran Lee Bauer was there to lend a helping hand.

“When I dragged my bags through the doors of the USO, I was greeted with, ‘Are you coming or going’ and I responded [to Bauer] that I didn’t really know,” Deutsch said in an email.

Bauer, who has volunteered with the USO since October 2012, immediately reached out to surrounding hotels to find Deutsch a place to rest her head.

“Within minutes he came to me with a smile and informed me he had a [free] room for me at a nearby hotel, (the Holiday Inn Chantilly),” Deutsch said. “He walked me to the shuttle, chatting about his time in the service, and wished me a good evening and safe travels. I appreciated him and the other volunteers at this and other USO [centers] more than I can say.”

After arriving in Germany, Deutsch also stopped by the USO Frankfurt International Airport to get some sleep.

“It was small, but the staff was kind and there was a couch and a blanket and pillow,” Deutsch said. “It was the first sleep I had since the redeye flight I was able to get on the following day.”

A Family Saved: USO/Stronger Families Seminar Leader Garrick Pang Shares One of his Favorite Moments

Garrick Pang, left, listens to Noel Meador speak during a Stronger Families presentation in 2012. USO photo by Dave Gatley

Garrick Pang, left, listens to Noel Meador speak during a USO/Stronger Families presentation in 2012. USO photo by Dave Gatley

Stronger Families’ Garrick Pang makes a difference.

As the nonprofit’s senior director of training and support, he travels the country conducting USO/Stronger Families Oxygen for Your Relationships seminars for troops and their significant others.

Here is one of his favorite stories about a family that was on the edge of breaking apart:

“It was a couple of years ago. I was down at Twentynine Palms Marine Corps Base and we were doing this particular class for wounded, ill and injured service men and women and their families.

And in the back of the room came in a young couple and we had a few extra spaces available and so they had opened it up to the broader Marine population. And this couple, I think, had been ‘voluntold’ to come. And you can just see kind of the tension between them when they walked in the room.

As we began and started sharing about the program and different elements of it, I could see that … this tension was starting to come to the surface more. In the program, I share a little bit about my own personal story and my own journey of what my wife and I had been through early on in our marriage.

At the end of the first day, they came up to me and … the wife said to me, ‘Your wife at year seven, that was me two weeks ago.’

And I turned to the young Marine and I said, ‘So what did you do in response to what she said?’ Because what happened to me was at year seven, my wife basically said, ‘I’m done. I can’t do this anymore.’ And this Marine said, ‘Well, I didn’t know what to say. So, I said, “Well, whatever.”‘

And what I had shared with the class that I had made a decision at that point that I needed to fight for my marriage. And so I turned to him and I said, ‘You are a Marine. And I believe that I don’t know you very well but I’m sure that when you set your mind to something, you make that your objective and you achieve it, am I correct?’ And with some pride, he said, ‘Yes, sir. That’s correct.’

And now, you’ve just heard your wife say to you, after less than two years of marriage, that while she said she was done, she really wants you to fight for your marriage.

I said, ‘Do you think you’re up for that task? Because I think you can do it if you set that as your objective.’ And again, with some pride he kind of sat up in his chair and he says, ‘Yes, sir. I think I can do that.’

Out the corner of my eye, I could see a smile kind of coming over her face. Well, they came back for day two and I could tell that there was already something that was different. And they finished, completed the training and at the end of the day, I sat down with them and I said, ‘So, tell me what happened here.’ And he said, ‘You reminded me of what’s important. And you helped us to go back to the beginning and really recognize that what we felt like was gone was really still there.’

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I followed up with them over the next four weeks.

I called them each week and again, less than two years married [with] a 5-month-old baby, they’d been deployed once, so they’ve been apart actually more than they been together. And he was ready to ship out in another month for another deployment.

So, I followed up with them and after that last call that I had with him, he said, ‘I want say thank you to you. Thank you to USO and to Stronger Families because I’m headed away for a deployment and I’m going to come back to my family. A month ago, I couldn’t have said that.’

And so to me, that’s really probably one of my favorite stories of a life – of a relationship – that’s been changed through the program.”

Epic Fundraiser: Jay Leno’s Muscle Car Raised $565,625 for the USO

Auction houses selling rare and expensive collector cars are usually teeming with excitement, but at Gooding & Company’s 2015 Scottsdale Auctions in Arizona this weekend, there was an extra layer of celebrity buzz when comedian Jay Leno rolled out his prized 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8—with all proceeds benefiting the USO.

Rare and exotic Ferraris sold for multiple millions, but the highlight of the auction was Leno’s Challenger. The crowd roared as bidders competed for the patriotic prize in the one of the most exciting bidding displays Gooding & Company has ever seen.

The bidding started at $50,000 and when the auctioneer finally dropped the hammer at $360,000—nearly 10 times the car’s blue-book value—USO President and CEO Dr. J.D. Crouch II, present at the event, was filled with pride. The entire auction house stood for applause. However, the giving wasn’t done. Nobody was prepared for what happened next.

“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 Crouch.

Paddles began flying and within moments, another man committed to donate the full $100,000. Additional donations kept rolling in to the tune of $5,625, which meant that thanks to Jay Leno and other generous supporters, the USO would receive a total of $565,625!

This isn’t the first time Leno has flexed his charity muscle for the troops. In previous years, he has dedicated his annual Love Ride to the USO, and just two months ago, after returning from entertaining troops on a USO tour in Afghanistan, he joined the TODAY show to “Shine A Light” on troops back home by gifting another of his Dodge Challengers directly to a wounded soldier.

“We’re overwhelmed by the response that we got from those who attended the auction,” said Crouch. “The funds raised here will go far to advance our goals of expanding our services to men and women in uniform.”

Jiffy Lube Franchises Join Forces to Raise over $19,000 for USO Delaware

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Less than a month into 2015, Bob Falter and his Jiffy Lube team have already helped make a huge difference for the USO.

Under the leadership of Falter, a Jiffy Lube Regional franchise owner, locations across Delaware last fall sold key fobs to raise money for the organization. In addition to spearheading the key fob promotion, Falter, whose father served in World War II, agreed to match the fundraising efforts dollar for dollar, resulting in a $19,000 check that was presented to USO Delaware Director Joan Cote on Jan. 15.

“Obviously receiving a check for that amount is not a daily occurrence, so we were completely blown away by the success of the campaign,” Cote said. “None of [USO Delaware’s] important programs could be achieved without the financial support that comes from the generosity of individuals, organizations and companies like Jiffy Lube.”

Falter and his team reached out to customers through direct mail and radio ads and hosted special promotion launch nights at Grotto Pizza to educate Jiffy Lube employees about the USO’s mission.

“It was a wonderful promotion and I’d like to say that I was part of it, but it was truly a team effort to raise this amount of money,” Falter said.

To help motivate Jiffy Lube franchises during the promotion, Mike Tatoian, a USO Delaware council chair and the president of Dover Motorsports, Inc., gave the participating Jiffy Lube locations an added incentive. The location that sold the most key fobs would be his personal guests for an upcoming NASCAR race at Dover International Speedway.

With support from Falter, his Jiffy Lube team and their generous customers, the USO is able to deliver on it’s mission to lift the spirits of America’s troops and their families.

“The many gestures of appreciation and support that the USO delivers on behalf of a grateful community […] make a tremendous impact on the morale of our military personnel and their families,” Cote said.

Auburn vs. Alabama Off the Field: Schools’ Theta Chi Chapters Compete to Support the USO

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Roll Tide? War Eagle? Now is your chance to support your favorite school and help the USO at the same time.

The famous SEC football foes have extended their rivalry to the nonprofit world. According to al.com, the Theta Chi chapters at both Auburn and the University of Alabama have created a competition to benefit the USO.

Participation is easy, and any fan around the world can do it. You can text either “USO Tide” if you support Alabama or “USO Tigers” if you support Auburn to 80888. The texts will add a $5 donation to your phone bill that will benefit the USO. (Standard text and data rates may also apply.)

Alabama senior John Anderson, a former Theta Chi chapter president, told al.com that the two chapters set a goal to raise $10,000 for the USO.

“We figured since college students are always on their phones, this would be an easy way for them to donate to a great organization,” Anderson told al.com. “However, we have also found that parents and other adults are just as willing to donate via a text message.”

J&J Speaker Shows Caregivers Road to Peak Performance at USO Conference

FAYETTEVILLE, North Carolina—Chris Jordan sees extremes all the time.

His job is to help people — businessmen, athletes, etc. — who put their bodies and personal relationships through great stress while trying to achieve big goals. As the Director of Exercise Physiology at the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute, Jordan helps people with who often have little free time find ways to maximize their fitness routines, eating habits and stress levels in order to live healthier lives.

In November, he brought his skills to the USO Caregivers Conference to help caregivers of wounded, ill and injured troops come up with a plan on how to live more balanced lives.

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Jordan taught a breakout session titled “Connect with the Positive Physical Approach,” and also led a general session on how caregivers can incorporate healthier habits into daily routines.

“They do a very good job of taking care of everyone around them … but don’t do a very good job of taking care of themselves,” Jordan said. “But we know through our training that if you can train yourself to have more energy and increase your capacity to deliver, you can do more for those things and people who matter most to you.”