By Carolyn Gray

The USO strengthens America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to the nation.

In 1941, under the helm of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, several service associations merged and became the USO. Their mission: to lift the morale of the military and provide support to the home front. That mission continues today – both abroad and here at home.

USO Pensacola

For service members stationed at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, the USO is a central meeting place. The USO Pensacola location provides support to 200-300 service members on a daily basis.

The two-story building covers 10,000 square feet of space, making it the largest USO in the United States. All programs and services are free to active duty, reservists and dependents. There are designated areas for music, movies, studying, pool tables and gaming. Other services include Wi-Fi, a library and a computer lab with a printer and Common Access Card (CAC) readers.

Allyson Kelly, a field programs coordinator, has been working with the USO for two years. She oversees upcoming events, maintains social media outlets and works closely with other volunteers. Kelly is just one of the 30,000 volunteers worldwide that provides time and support to the USO mission around the globe.

“We could not support the military community without the helping hands of our volunteers. I enjoy working here because I constantly meet new people every day,” Kelly said.

The Power of USO Volunteers

USO volunteers focus on the main objectives of the organization: unite, deliver, entertain and transition.

Meeting new people and creating lasting relationships is only half of the USO’s mission. Maintaining strong connections between service members and their families no matter where they serve is the other half.

This year three million service members and their families have participated in location-based programs, and with 230 plus locations across seven continents, the USO delivers support to service members all around the world.

From those stationed abroad who are training in isolated locations, to those on arduous missions in remote parts of the world, the USO is there with expeditionary outreach support – including care packages, snacks, holiday celebration items and internet services provided throughout challenging deployments.

Is the USO a Part of the Federal Government?

The USO is not part of the federal government. As a congressionally chartered, private organization, the USO relies on the generosity of individuals, organizations and corporations to support its activities, and is powered by a family of volunteers to accomplish its mission.

This story first appeared on It has been edited for style, brevity and grammar.