Tell the Troops: You Rock!

Time and time again you have stepped up to show our troops you support them. Wherever they’re serving, our troops need to know we’ve got their backs. And the USO has just the way for you to get that message across.

Send a donation of $25 or more and get your limited 2012 edition of the USO’s “Our Troops Know I Have Their Backs” t-shirt in time for the 4th of July.

Our troops are deployed all over the world, from Afghanistan to Okinawa to bases across the United States, serving to protect us and our country. And no matter where they are, thanks to people like you, the USO is there to support them, providing care packages, helping them connect back home, supporting our healing heroes, and so much more.

Donate $25 or more to support our troops before the June 1st deadline. We’ll rush your 2012 “I Have Their Backs” t-shirt to you in time for the 4th of July.

I know you’ll be proud to wear this very special t-shirt everywhere you go on the
4th of July.

Thanks for all you do,
Joan Jett

P.S. — These shirts are a limited edition for 2012, so don’t wait for the deadline, make sure you get yours today!

Letters Back Home: T-Shirt Edition

We’d like to say a huge “Thank You” to all of our donors who made our 4th of July t-shirt campaign such a fantastic success.  We’ve received notes from around the country letting us know how you showed the Troops “I have your back” over the holiday.  This letter really caught our attention and we’re proud to share one USO supporter’s experience.

How did you wear your USO t-shirt on Independence Day?  Send us your letters and pictures – we’d love to share more!

Becoming an American in Iraq

Baghdad, Iraq- “Man, if I was born in the U.S. I never would have seen this!” exclaims PFC Andres Martinez after posing with the mural of Saddam Hussein on Camp Slayer in the Victory Base Complex. The story of PFC Martinez and his four fellow soldiers Edelberto Elias, Seguei Maspoch and Andrew Russell of the US ARMY 4th Division, 3rd Brigade 1/8 infantry begins on a dusty flight line on June 30 in Southern Iraq, while waiting on a Blackhawk helicopter where SSG Andrew Russell is sponsoring his three men.  The men are all traveling to Baghdad for a grandiose ceremony in Al Faw Palace on July 4th, the headquarters of the United States Forces-Iraq, where they will be naturalized as United States citizens.

All four soldiers serve on Forward Operating Base GarryOwen which defines the term “middle of nowhere” and this trip to the Victory Base Complex (VBC) was more then just becoming well deserved American citizens in a lavish ceremony with the top brass in the theater.  It was a chance to relax and enjoy the benefits of being on a very large and well appointed base like the VBC. The USO Baghdad met these men on that dusty flight line in Southern Iraq and decided that it was ‘mission critical’ to help these men make the most of their time up here in the capital city of Iraq.

SSG Andrew Russell points out the Ba’ath Party Convention Center to PFC Elias, SPC Maspoch, and PFC Martinez during their trip to Baghdad for a U.S. naturalization ceremony. (USO photo)

Upon arrival in Baghdad on Sather Air Base, the simple task of giving them a ride across the VBC to their temporary housing turned into a 3 hour venture that included a pizza lunch and stops at the major landmarks of the former Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, like the Victory Over America Palace and the Ba’ath Party Convention Center. Tired from the flight and stuffed on pizza and Monsters, the men were dropped off at their housing and rested for another day of their Baghdad adventure.

Second night in Baghdad, the USO Staff treated the men to a local Turkish restaurant that also shows World Cup soccer projected on the wall. We figured the fellas would appreciate the break from the routine meals served at the dining facility on GerryOwen, as they only just recently got a dining facility on their base.  These guys have been eating ARMY issued MREs for months now, but on that night they were sitting under clear skies eating Chicken Tikka and wondering if they were still in the same country!  The best part of the evening was enjoying some comforts of home and enjoying the drubbing of Mexico by Argentina. Into every life a little rain must fall, though, and it was tough going on the third night when SPC Martinez’ home nation of Chile took a epic beating at the hands of neighboring Brazil in the World Cup.

(l-r) SSG Andrew Russell sponsored PFC Andres Martinez, SPC Seguei Maspoch and PFC Edelberto Elias for citizenship. All enjoyed the amenities of USO Baghdad days before the ceremony. (USO photo)

It was quickly back to business during the week leading up to the ceremony, which occured on Independence Day.  The men had their citizenship interviews to prepare for and make sure their paperwork is all in good order, but when their meetings ended, the USO has some more fun and games planned for them. As it happens, the Sather Air Base USAF Civil Engineering Squadron was planning a farewell cookout at the only pool on the VBC on Saturday afternoon and gladly extended invites to the USO and our visitors. The location of the pool and cookout used to be the getaway for the upper echelon of Saddam’s Ba’ath party and now the area is open to every service member of the coalition forces.

Altogether, Al Faw Palace hosted 156 servicemembers who earned their U.S. citizenship - on Independence Day, no less - through service to the nation. (USO photo)

Big day arrives and Seguei, Edelberto & Andres stand with 173 others and raise their right hand once again for this nation and when the hands come down they now belong to American Citizens. Years in wait and weeks to prepare for this event and it was over rather quick, all 3 of the fellas were happy but they admitted to feeling a lot more emotional then they thought they were going to. Edelberto likened it to getting married in that respect. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden were on hand to be apart of the ceremony that was run by USF-I commander Gen Ray Ordierno.

It was a life defining moment for the 3 soldiers but they also have work to do here and buddies to support on GarryOwen.  All too soon they gathered at Sather Air Base for their flight back to Tallil.  The USO Baghdad says “goodbye and good luck” to our good friends…and fellow U.S. Citizens

Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, congratulate a service member on becoming a U.S. citizen on the 4th of July, 2010. (USO photo)

Take our Independence Day Poll!

A view of the South Lawn of the White House as military families enjoyed the holiday on July 4, 2009, with a special USO picnic and concert. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

One of our favorite holidays – the 4th of July – is almost here.  We’ll be honoring our Troops and celebrating our independence…and we want to hear what YOU will be doing, too!

Take our poll below and add your own ideas in the comments section.  And click on the “Share This” button to post to your favorite social networking sites.

Four lucky commenters will receive USO prize packs!  Sorry, USO employees and their families are not eligible.

Our Troops Know I Have Their Back!

The 4th of July is almost here.  We at the USO are gearing up for a patriotic celebration…and we want YOU to be a part of it!

Now through Flag Day – Monday, June 14 – you can show your support of the USO by donating $20 or more to the We’ve Got Their Back campaign.  In return, we’ll send you a limited-edition USO t-shirt that lets everyone know just how much you support the Troops.

It’s always easy and secure to donate online to the USO.  And the Flag Day deadline ensures that you’ll receive your t-shirt just in time to celebrate the 4th of July in USO style.  We can’t think of a better way to celebrate our nation’s independence.

What are you waiting for?   Let ‘em know “We’ve Got Their Back” today!