Thanks to generous supporters like you, the USO was able to do a lot for troops and military families in 2014. Here are just 27 of the thousands of ways we supported those who defend our country this past year.
1. A connection on their big day: Deployed National Guard Staff Sgt. Pedro Cruz couldn’t attend his son’s NYU graduation. But thanks to the USO in the Mideast, he was able to deliver a graduation-day surprise his son will never forget.
2. A homecoming at Fort Drum: USO Fort Drum builds a community for spouses while their soldiers are deployed. See what happens when those spouses come back.
3. USO2GO: How one shipment brought a much-needed pick-me-up to troops at Forward Operating Base Ghazni, Afghanistan.
4. Several USOs come up big with free meals — often called No Dough Dinners — for troops and their families right before payday. See how USO Great Lakes does it.
5. Injured and transitioning out of the Army, Marco Gonzalez was a man without a purpose. Then one day he was invited to have lunch at USO Fort Riley and everything started to change.
6. From Afghanistan to the delivery room: How the USO helped a deployed Marine see the birth of his child in real time.
7. Thousands of troops interacted with star athletes, musicians, actors and more in 2014. Check out our our entertainment year in review.
8. USO Operation That’s My Dress brought hundreds of teens around the U.S. together with fashion experts this year to pick out free ball gowns for formal events. Check out the November event in Jacksonville, Florida.
9. Stuck in quarantine? The USO has you covered there, too. We continue to be there for troops who are in a DOD-mandated quarantine after supporting the Ebola mission in Africa. Check out what the USO is doing for troops under a precautionary 21-day post-duty isolation in Germany.
10. Uniting families of the fallen: The USO helped London Bell find a new sense of community after the death of her Marine brother. See how in this video:
11. USO/ What to Expect Special Delivery events give military moms-to-be a day of fun and insights with best-selling author Heidi Murkoff:
12. Stranded, but not alone: How the USO at Philadelphia International Airport helped one pregnant military spouse who was in a bind.
13. “A worry-free zone”: See how recovering troops are talking about the new USO Warrior and Family Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
14. Will you marry me? Stationed separately, Pvt. Emmanuel Aleman had to ask Pvt. Zoe Tunchez to marry him over the phone. USO San Antonio helped him pull off a proper proposal just days before their wedding.
15. Getting them home for the holidays: USO volunteers and staff mobilize around the country help young troops get home in time for Christmas.
16. Up all night: See how one USO volunteer at Sky Harbor Phoenix International Airport stayed awake all night so stranded troops could sleep in the center during a dust storm that grounded flights.
17. Resiliency for military kids: The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families employs some familiar characters to make a big impact.
18. USO Ladies Nights: Learn how the USO brings female service members together in Afghanistan for a little bonding time.
19. Through Operation Birthday Cake, USO centers in the Pacific help troops celebrate their big days despite being far from home.
20. Wounded warriors at Fort Hood, Texas, needed a gym to do their rehab. The USO stepped up and built them one.
21. Creating Christmas moments: USO centers around the world were there to show a good time to troops who couldn’t make it home celebrate.
22. Tickets for troops: Chicago pro sports teams work with USO of Illinois to get tickets to troops.
23. A look at how USO Caregivers Conferences focus on helping a group of folks that never gets a break: the caretakers of wounded warriors.
24. Who doesn’t like coffee? The USO gives tens of thousands of free cups of coffee to troops every year. Check out some of the stats.
25. An emergency place to stay: USO Guam turned into a temporary hotel in August for Marines who were stranded for 30 hours.
26. Deployment music: One Marine shreds on the guitar, then talks about what USO Camp Buehring’s music room means to him.
27. A clutch wedding: When Pvt. Chase Howard had four days of leave in January, the USO Warrior and Family Center on Fort Belvoir, Virginia, sprung into action to turn a last-minute wedding between he and his fiancé Brittany a reality.