Looking Back at the Messages of Thanks at the BET Experience

In case you missed it, the USO was on the scene at The BET Experience in Los Angeles on June 28 and 29. Attendees stopped by the USO Mobile inside The Los Angeles Convention Center to send messages of thanks to America’s troops.

While you can see the full video recap here on USO.org, check our our Instavid above and Flipagram below we produced on the convention center floor as attendees stopped by to share their gratitude.

Help with PTSD Issues are Just One Call (or Click) Away for Troops and Families

The wars in the Middle East have mostly wound down. But many troops don’t leave the battle on the battlefield.

It’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month, and thousands of military families live and care for a loved one still dealing with emotional trauma or traumatic brain injuries stemming from action in Iraq or Afghanistan. If you’re one of those families – or know someone who needs help – here is a list of resources that can help.

And as always, if you or someone you know needs to talk to someone immediately, call the Military Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact them online at militarycrisisline.net.

    • USO Caregivers Conferences: Held on or near different military installations around the United States, these USO conferences discuss caregivers’ issues like resiliency, communication, compassion fatigue and how to talk to children after a parent has been injured.

  • PTSD Coach:The Department of Veterans Affairs has a website and app called PTSD Coach that aims to help troops and veterans manage issues like anger, sleep and trauma triggers.
  • USO/Stronger Families Oxygen Seminars: This Bothell, Wash.-based nonprofit helps couples – especially military couples affected by injuries or long separations – open the lines of communication. Their Oxygen Seminars have become a key partner program of USO Warrior and Family Care.
  • Family readiness officers, family support groups and family support centers: While some may be more robust than others, every branch of the military has family support services. These officers and groups are huge information resources. Contact your command to find out what groups are available for your family.
  • Aggregate lists: The Washington Post has an easy-to-navigate rundown of warning signs, benefits and services and how to find help.
  • And if in doubt: Call the Military Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or contact them online at militarycrisisline.net.

Teeing Up Military Kids for Success: Lockheed Martin Volunteers Help Quicken Loans National Golf Tournament Attendees Build Deployment Kits

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BETHESDA, Md.–When children are faced with a parent’s deployment — or worse, a parent who doesn’t return from deployment — they encounter emotions which may be difficult to express.

Understanding this, volunteers from Lockheed Martin are helping Quicken Loans National spectators at Congressional Country Club — including many military families — assemble hundreds of With You all The Way Deployment Kits for military children this week.

The USO — in partnership with the Trevor Romain Company and the Comfort Crew for Military Kids — uses the With You All the Way program to support children ages 6 to 18 tackling difficult issues unique to growing up in a military family.

The unique kit helps children deal with deployment challenges and even establishes valuable knowledge for the reintegration process.

“This is just a great cause, and it’s so awesome to see kids — a lot of military kids, in fact, but others as well — coming in to pack deployment kits for other kids,” said Laura Stewart of Lockheed Martin. Stewart is one of many Lockheed Martin volunteers staffing the USO deployment kit assembly tent this week at the Quicken Loan National.

The deployment kit is centered around the “With You All the Way! Dealing With Deployment” DVD, which was created as a collaboration between The Comfort Crew and the USO. The Comfort Crew was founded by humorist Trevor Romain, who frequently tours with the USO, sharing life lessons with military children such as how to deal with bullies, facing fears, coping with separation and understanding grief.

“I am a full-on supporter of the USO and what they do for military families,” said Marine Staff Sgt. Tyler Barnes, a military caddy who helped construct a deployment kit Wednesday. “I’ve seen all of the support here at home and downrange. It’s just a great organization and they do a lot of great stuff for the military.”

The deployment kits include:

  • The animated “With You All the Way! Dealing with Deployment” DVD
  • A guided writing journal with prompts, calendar, map, and activities
  • The “With You All The Way! Dealing With Deployment Family Guidebook
  • A set of 10 postcards featuring original artwork by Romain
  • Cuzzie, a plush bear for military kids
  • A pair of imprinted dog tags to share with a deploying parent

Fathers and Daughters Dance the Night Away with the USO of Wisconsin

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On Saturday evening, 30 father-daughter couples — dressed in their finest — attended the USO of Wisconsin’s first ever Father-Daughter Dance at the American Legion Post in Greendale, Wis.

The couples enjoyed a magical night of dancing, light refreshments and chocolate fountain treats.

As part of the evening’s festivities, the young ladies (ranging from 18 months to 12 years old) and their escorts were formally introduced to the other attendees as part of a Grand March Ceremony. Each girl was also recognized in a Princess Pinning Ceremony, where they each received a special princess ribbon as well as a scepter.

“Many of the fathers were excited and were asking about the date for the next dance,” USO of Wisconsin Executive Director Jackie Moehrke said.

Ursus of Afghanistan: USO Kandahar Gets in on the Build-A-Bear Fun

As you can see, the USO Kandahar center in Afghanistan really got into the spirit of our campaign with Build-A-Bear. You can get in on the fun, too, by sharing a message of thanks using the #babwUSOthanks hashtag on your social media platform of choice. When you do, Build-A-Bear Workshop will donate $1 per post up to $50,000 to help the USO support troops and their families across the globe.