Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is used to winning. He added another accolade to his resume earlier this month when he received the NFL Salute to Service Award.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh meets Army Gen. Ray Odierno (top) and mingles with troops during a 2009 USO Tour. USO photo
The award – presented by USAA – is given to one member of the NFL community each year who goes above and beyond to support and honor America’s troops and veterans.
Harbaugh participated in the inaugural USO NFL Coaches Tour in 2009. He traveled to the Mideast that summer with Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, then-Titans head coach Jeff Fisher and former NFL head-coaches-turned-TV-personalities Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden.
“We do some great things in the National Football League, but to me the Salute to Service games are by far the most meaningful because the support goes to the right organizations,” Harbaugh told the USO in 2012. “The USO is one of these great organizations. What they do for troops is first class all the way. I feel like America is in good hands as long as these very special people keep making very special sacrifices to keep sane those who keep us safe.”
The USO has a long relationship with the NFL. The league gifted NFL Game Pass subscriptions to USO centers overseas this past season so troops serving abroad would still be able to watch their favorite teams on Sundays. That gift kept games streaming to service members during last fall’s government shutdown, when TV service to troops in Afghanistan was limited.
The USO Warrior and Family Center at Bethesda, Md., is just weeks away from opening its doors. With many of the same comforts and amenities as the USO Warrior and Family Center at Fort Belvoir, Va., the building will be a place recovering troops and their families and caregivers can both relax and grow their skills on their road to a brighter future.
We stopped by last week to see the center’s progress. Check out the photos.
The USO Show Troupe was on Fox News Channel’s Fox and Friends this morning to perform and tell people how they can get involved in USO Love Notes. In this short, Deidre Haren explains how you can get involved at www.usomoments.org.
Seven cartoonists went halfway around the globe to meet America’s troops. And they penned some notes of appreciation while they were at it.
The USO cartoonists tour to Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan – with quick stops in Turkey and Germany – wrapped recently. Those National Cartoonist Society Members also joined the USO Love Notes campaign, writing messages of support to American service members. Among those who made the trek: “Lola” creator Todd Clark, editorial cartoonists Paul Combs and Tom Stiglich, “Punderstatements” creator Bruce Higdon, “In the Bleachers and “Open Season” creator Steve Moore and MAD Magazine contributors Ed Steckley and Sam Viviano.
Coincidentally, the tour marked the last USO entertainment foray into Kyrgyzstan, where significant U.S. operations are winding down.
Without books to read, the USO/United Through Reading Military Program wouldn’t last a day.
That’s why huge kudos are in order for two Girl Scouts who received their Silver Awards recently after collecting 731 books for the United Through Reading library at the USO inside the Baltimore-Washington International Airport. The program – which the USO facilitates around the world - lets troops record themselves reading books aloud to their kids and then send a copy of that reading home to their family.
Girl Scouts Grace Kinnear and Maeve Hall hosted a lemonade stand, asked for donations at their school book fair and even solicited support from local businesses in order to meet their goal.
Grace’s grandfather, Jim Kinnear, was a motivating force behind the project. The girls were introduced to USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore through Jim’s work as a volunteer and were given a tour of the BWI center when they dropped off a cookie donation. This spurred their idea to replenish the United Through Reading library there.
When Grace and Maeve arrived with a cart full of books Jan. 27, they had an entourage of nearly 30 family members, including parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and grandparents. Even the principal of their school came to celebrate their service. It was an uplifting scene as family and friends gathered around for the presentation, teary with pride for the girls and our troops.
–Story gathered by Lauren Hebert, USO of Metropolitan Washington
USO Northwest was gifted a piece of history Thursday. The USO center at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport received planks from the teak decking from the USS Colorado, a ship that patrolled the waters of the Pacific during World War II. The decking – a gift from Boeing, which possessed the boards for more than 50 years – will cover roughly 1,500 square feet of floor inside the USO’s Sea-Tac center.
“We are very excited the Boeing Company has chosen the USO Northwest to be the recipient of this great piece of history,” USO Northwest Executive Director Don Leingang said, according to the Tukwila Reporter. “Our organization truly understands the significance of this donation and is honored to be the new caretaker of this teakwood planking for as long as the USO exists at SeaTac Airport.”