12 Days of Wishbook, Day 6: Help Launch a Post-Military Career

The sixth day of Wishbook is about planning.

America’s troops aren’t always going to wear their uniforms. The USO understands this, and is actively helping service members translate their skills from the battlefield to the cubicle and even up to the boardroom through a series of programs. The USO’s partnership with Hire Heroes USA has helped thousands of troops learn how to best present their skills on civilian resumes and even lets them practice their interview skills with local hiring managers during Career Opportunity Days.

And constantly evolving initiatives – like the USO’s partnership with Georgetown University – teaches transitioning troops how to start their own businesses:

This holiday season, you can help these troops – who work so hard to defend our freedom – on their way to new careers after their service ends.

12 Days of Wishbook, Day 5: Video Chatting with Loved Ones from the Front Lines

The fifth day of Wishbook looks at a different form of communication.

The days of men on the front lines receiving postmarked envelopes have been replaced by email conversations and face-to-face chats over video link. The USO – with a little help from our global technology partners – has turned your donations into huge moments, like helping troops watch their children being born from a continent away:

Your Wishbook purchase can ensure the USO continues making these moments happen for our troops and their families.

12 Days of Wishbook, Day 4: USO Meals for Troops and Families

Courtesy of the USO of Illinois

Courtesy of the USO of Illinois

Day 4 of the 12 Days of WIshbook is a time to focus on community.

USO centers aren’t just places to stop for a quick snack and a nap between flights. USO centers serve as a community hub on dozens of bases around the world. In an effort to boost that sense of community – and take a bit of financial burden from our younger enlisted troops with families – the USO hosts a variety of free community meals. The events take on several names – including No Dough Dinners – and usually occur a day or two before payday. That’s usually the point when lower-ranking troops – like Army Spc. Will Daugherty – and their families have stretched their paychecks to the limit:

“It’s always right before payday that we end up ordering pizza or eating off the dollar menu. It’s not ideal and the kids eat healthy when we can afford to, but you have to do what you have to do to get by, you know?” said Daugherty, a married father of four who attended a No Dough Dinner at USO Fort Riley, Kan., earlier this year. …

“I’m really glad I found out about this – right here on base. It helps us, you know? Right at the moment when we need it most.”

For just a little dough out of your pocket, you can give an extra boost to military families this holiday season, right at the moment when they need it most.

12 Days of Wishbook, Day 3: Put a Hero in the Stands at a Sporting Event

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Day 3 of the 12 Days of Wishbook brings us to a little-known USO program that’s a fan favorite for troops around the world.

Our troops love sports. And our generous donors – both on the national and local level – understand this, providing the USO with thousands of tickets and funds for professional and collegiate sports events year round. It could be as big as a major donor in Boston handing off a block of courtside seats to a Celtics game, a benevolent community member dropping their unused upper deck tickets at one of our centers, or – in the case of Jessica Nash – a surprise giveaway for unsuspecting troops and their families at the USO Missouri’s center at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

“They were great seats and made for a wonderful surprise to bring home to my husband,” said Nash, whose husband is an active-duty sailor. “It was fantastic. A really, really, nice surprise by both the USO and the person who donated the tickets.”

You can help bring a great surprise to troops and their families this holiday season the same way with just a few clicks.

12 Days of Wishbook, Day 2: Growing Up Kits for Kids

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Trevor Romain, center, has developed a host of kits to help military kids get through tough times. USO photo

The second day of Wishbook is dedicated to a group that can get lost in the shuffle.

Family resilience has become a major topic over last 12 years of deployments. This includes children in military families, who go can struggle through months of uncertainty while their parents are doing some dangerous work. To help these kids through the tough times, the USO partners with The Comfort Crew and the Trevor Romain Company to distribute a variety of kits tackling issues like deployment and reintegration, bullying and what to do if the unthinkable happens while their parent is serving in harm’s way.

As Romain explained during an April summit at the USO Warrior and Family Center at Fort Belvoir, Va., younger kids aren’t always psychologically equipped to deal with reintegration in a way their adult parents can understand.

“When children have come up to us after [presentations], really what they needed was validation of what they were going through, instead of somebody trying to fix it for them,” he said. “There was a young boy recently who came up to us and just started crying. I said ‘Are you OK?’ And he said, ‘I am now’ and turned around and walked away.”

“He needed that place to feel comfortable.”

This holiday season, you can help children in military families who are going through that same type of emotional journey by giving them the gift of a kit that lets them know they’re not alone.

12 Days of Wishbook, Day 1: Phone Calls Home for Our Troops

The 12 Days of Wishbook are upon us. This holiday season, thanks to USO Wishbook, you can give vital gifts to America’s troops serving in harm’s way with the click of a mouse.

Today’s gift – phone calls home – is simple, but it’s one of the most powerful things the USO provides for troops each year. Case-in-point: Alexander Carpenter’s story:

Alexander Carpenter with his daughter, Chloe, shortly after his third and final deployment as a Marine. Photo courtesy of Alexander Carpenter

Alexander Carpenter with his daughter, Chloe, shortly after his third and final deployment as a Marine. Photo courtesy of Alexander Carpenter

I got back from a 12-day-out rotation. It was close to midnight in Ramadi. Our staff sergeant told us to clean our weapons and then we could shower, eat and have some time off. I cleaned my [weapon] so fast … because, my baby girl was to be born that day. I frantically cleaned my [weapon] and got a buddy to go the USO call center with me. (I skipped the chow and skipped the shower.) I called three or four different people and no one answered. I was so scared, I didn’t want to go back out without hearing my baby girl’s cry. Finally, I call one more time and I get an answer. She has been born!!! Ten fingers, 10 toes, healthy and kicking! … I shouted “I’M A DAD!” No one said shut up. No one told me to be quiet. But [the others in the USO] clapped and congratulated me. Tears streamed down my face. I spent six more months of patrols and firefights with my brothers by my side. I came back to the USO every 12 days to call home to hear my daughter. I made it home and saw my baby for the first time May 26, 2007 (she was born Dec. 2006).

I fought from that first phone call on not for oil, not for WMDs, not for Bush: I fought for my brothers to my left and right so we could all see our babies. The USO made that call possible for me. And to this day I have never said thank you. … Thank you USO.

You can give troops the same gift Carpenter received that December night in 2006 by clicking here. And check the USO blog every day from now through Dec. 20 to discover the other 12 Days of Wishbook gifts.