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Operation C.H.A.M.P.S Founders Rev up for USO Tour to South Korea

Debbie and Jen Fink. Photo via operationchamps.org

Debbie and Jen Fink

Mother-daughter duo Debbie and Jen Fink, founders of Operation C.H.A.M.P.S and co-authors of “The Little C.H.A.M.P.S — Child Heroes Attached to Military Personnel,” are in South Korea on USO tour to talk with young children from American military families.

“There is just no greater honor, really … than to be partnering and working with the USO and to be taking this [programming] to these deserving un-sung heroes all over the world,” Debbie Fink said. “The USO gets it and the USO has the personnel to really take a vision and turn it into reality.”

From today through Sept. 23, the Finks and the USO, will greet about 2,400 military children at five installations throughout South Korea.

“I’m so honored to have the privilege to go on this tour and I can’t wait,” Jen Fink said.

Empowering Little C.H.A.M.P.S

During each 45-minute program, the elementary-aged kids will have the chance to participate in specially designed programming that blends math, English-language arts, sign-language, song and dance to directly address many of the unique challenges they face as military children.

LittleCHAMPSbook“What we aim to do is to provide support, comfort and gratitude to all elementary school C.H.A.M.P.S in [South] Korea that we have the privilege of spending time with,” Debbie Fink said. “It’s a pretty upbeat program carefully crafted such that it’s joyful — it’s a feel-good. They come in feeling great, they walk out feeling great with their heads up high in song.”

In addition to reading the “The Little C.H.A.M.P.S” book and singing the C.H.A.M.P.S song — the latter written by Jen Fink— kids will engage in interactive activities to learn how to cope with emotions, deal with changes and tackle any obstacles they might face as a byproduct of having a parent in the military. From identifying the plot and setting of “The Little C.H.A.M.P.S” to calculating the average number of family moves the group has made, each part of the program is specifically tailored to help military children understand what it means to be a C.H.A.M.P in a fun-yet-educational, way.

“Everything that we do is very intentional in terms of how it [relates] to the academics [and education requirements] of the school [system],” Debbie Fink said.

Each child will also receive a free copy of “The Little C.H.A.M.P.S.”

“Together the book and program really celebrates and validates our nation’s C.H.A.M.P.S,” Jen Fink said. “It celebrates the C.H.A.M.P.S’ family service to our nation, as well as celebrates and validates [their] emotions and coping mechanisms.”

Operation C.H.A.M.P.S: A Family Affair

While this is not the first Operation C.H.A.M.P.S tour, it will be the first time that both Finks, will be going on tour overseas together. Debbie Fink has gone on multiple USO tours overseas, including a visit to Europe in 2011 and Japan last year.

“To have a multi-generation experience … with Jen and to work together as a mother and a daughter team is very striking,” Debbie Fink said. “I know that when we hear [the children] singing the song that Jen wrote there will be a lot of tears shed behind the scenes because it’s an overwhelming, overwhelming experience to give children not only a voice, but to give them their song.”

To learn more about Operation C.H.A.M.P.S and their 2013 USO tour to Japan, check out the USO.org story here.

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Unveiling A Record: USO Presents its Guinness World Record-Setting Flag

The USO traveled to The Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati on Thursday to unveil its Guinness World Record-breaking flag. The USO recently shattered the Guinness World Record for most signatures on a flag with 115,405.

Measuring 80 feet by 120 feet and weighing in around 350 pounds, the flag is a prime feature of the USO’s Every Moment Counts campaign and serves as a visible expression of gratitude for all that America’s troops and their families have done for our nation.

People from all 50 states and seven total countries signed the flag. But if you weren’t one of them, there’s still a chance to say thank you by sending a message here.

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13 Years Later: A Nation and its Troops Reflect on 9/11

Via Fotolia.com

Today is Patriot Day, otherwise known as 9/11, the day America was attacked, or — for those in uniform or about to sign up — the day everything seemingly changed.

America’s military has gone through a lot in the 13 years since an al-Qaida plot killed nearly 3,000 U.S. citizens in New York City, at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Troops have gone on millions of individual deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as a result of the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Still, as President Barack Obama reminded the country last night, the threat of terrorism — whatever group it’s coming from — continues to weigh heavily in world events. It’s something our brave men and women in uniform continue to fight to eradicate to the greatest extent possible.

And as long as they’re in uniform, the USO will be by their side giving them comfort on the frontlines, assisting their families back home and making sure they have the tools to achieve a bright future, whether they’re overcoming an injury or transitioning.

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Congress Helps USO Prep Warrior Care Packs for Wounded Troops

WASHINGTON—On the eve of the 9/11 anniversary, the USO and 75 members of Congress partnered to assemble 1,500 hygiene kits to be included in the USO Warrior Care Packs that will be given to wounded, ill and injured troops around the globe. These essential packs are designed to provide troops with the comforts of home during their recovery process.

“This is a very well-attended event and it’s great that we give an opportunity for our congressional leadership who really support the USO to help the troops overseas,” USO President and CEO Dr. J.D. Crouch II said.

The hygiene kits, which were assembled in the foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building, are filled with necessities  like shampoo, shaving items and toothpaste.

“It’s simple stuff, but it’s the stuff that when they step off the plane they don’t have,” Crouch said.

Click here to see photos from the USO service project on Capitol Hill. 

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New Issue of On Patrol Goes Back to Basics

Fall Cover 2014The digital edition of On Patrol’s Fall 2014 issue is available now. Go to usoonpatrol.org to go “Back to Basics” with our nation’s military and its families.

We’ve got Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force boot camps covered, in addition to important stories about physical and fiscal fitness to help keep you and your bank account healthy.

Noel Meador and Rachel Harris from Stronger Families, a USO program partner, explain how their organization’s Oxygen for Your Relationships seminars help military couples strengthen bonds and improve communication. The magazine features more stories on wide-ranging topics like military food, the plight of caregivers after war, moving and adjusting to life as a military spouse.

These stories and more are just a click away.

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TV That Backs the Troops: “Sons of Anarchy” Starts its Final Season

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The final season of “Sons of Anarchy” debuts tonight on FX at 10 p.m. EDT. And if you didn’t already have enough reasons to watch, you should know cast members have done multiple USO tours to support the troops, including appearances in the Pacific, downrange and stateside.

“I am so indebted to our outstanding men and women who singularly sacrifice their own time, talents and safety to protect and defend all that is dear to us as Americans,” actor Ron Perlman wrote in an email around the time of his 2012 USO tour stop at Twentynine Palms, California. “To have the opportunity to spend time with these great young people only begins to allow me the opportunity to communicate how special they are and how grateful we all are that they are who they are.”

“Sons of Anarchy” USO tour veterans include Perlman, Theo Rossi, Dayton Callie, Kim Coates and Mark Boone Junior.