Pentagon Announces Second Warrior Games

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announces the second annual Warrior Games to be held in Colorado Springs, Colo., in May 2011. Mullen addressed the media at the Pentagon on Sept. 20, 2010. (DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley)

The Pentagon announced yesterday that the second annual Warrior Games are scheduled to be held May 16 through May 21, 2011, at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Again hosted by the U.S. Olympic Committee, the games will include shooting, swimming, archery, track and field, cycling, sitting volleyball, and wheelchair basketball.

“When the focus is on ability rather than disability, we see that physical fitness and sports can have a healing affect on the mind, body and soul,” Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said Monday at the Pentagon.  You can read Adm. Mullen full statement on the games at DoD Live.

From a pool of more than 9,000 active-duty soldiers recovering in Warrior Transition Units, the Army will choose 100 competitors to represent it in the games. The Marine Corps will send 50 competitors and the Air Force will send 25. The Coast Guard and Navy will combine to send 25 rounding out the 200-competitor roster.

Click through to read the full American Forces Press Service story. And read about last year’s games from On Patrol Magazine and the On the Frontlines blog.

Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay: A Message from the President

U.S. Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth Preston talks to U.S. Soldiers of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, at Joint Security Station Loyalty, eastern Baghdad, Iraq, March 22, 2009. Preston discussed issues of interest to the enlisted Soldier, such as changes to the Army noncommissioned officer education system, Army force structure, and the Army's stop-loss policy. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. James Selesnick/Released)

As you know, we’re currently running a multi-part series on Retroactive Stop Loss Pay, with an introductory essay and valuable insights from the Army and Air Force so far.  We’d like to thank the Department of Defense for their cooperation in bringing this essential information to our audience.

President Obama recently released the video below to emphasize the importance of the October 21 deadline.  That’s almost exactly one month away.  Military members whose service was involuntarily extended or whose retirement was suspended between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009, are entitled to a retroactive payment of $500 for each month of extension.

As Admiral Mike Mullen explains in an open letter on the site, “The application process is simple and straightforward. No strings attached. But once the deadline passes, we cannot by law extend it. So jump online and check it out at:  It’s your money.”

Stay tuned for more from the other branches of the military, and help get the word out to anyone you know who might be eligible.

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Pentagon Care Package Stuffing Party

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, participates in a USO Care Package Stuffing party at the Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia, July 2, 2010. (USO photo by Mike Theiler)

“Thanks for doing this,” Admiral Mullen told the volunteers. “I’ve been in the field with the troops a lot, and I know what a difference this makes.”

USO of Metropolitan Washington hosted military leaders, staff aides, and USO and Pentagon volunteers for a morning devoted to assembling 2,000 packages to be distributed to US military forces deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife, Deborah, were among the volunteers.

“[USO’s support of military members] gives us strength, it gives us inspiration, and it helps us in what are very, very difficult times,” the chairman told Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden of American Forces Press Service.

We’d like to thank everyone who came out to show their support  – and care package stuffing skills! – for this perfectly patriotic event.  Check out more pictures below…

Active duty service members take time to assemble USO care packages that will be sent to deployed troops, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, during a care package event at the Pentagon on July 2, 2010. (USO Photo by Mike Theiler)

Sandee Cartwright, wife of Gen. James Cartwright Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, joins Elaine Rogers and Cheryl Laaker Hall, of USO of Metropolitan Washington, during a Pentagon care package event on July 2, 2010. (USO Photo by Mike Theiler)

The USO Liberty Bells take time to assemble care packages at an Operation USO Care Package party at the Pentagon on July 2, 2010. (USO Photo by Mike Theiler)

More than 100 Pentagon employees and friends assembled 2,000 care packages during an Operation USO Care Package party on July 2, 2010. (USO Photo by Mike Theiler)

Check Out the Latest from The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Spring Tour!

Three-time Emmy winner and former "Sopranos" star James Gandolfini poses for a photo with a soldier stationed in the Persian Gulf on March 30, 2010. (USO photo by Fred Greaves)

Admiral Mike Mullen and special guests continue to visit with Troops.  Here’s what they have to say:

Admiral Mike Mullen: I am delighted to once again be traveling with the USO and a great group of entertainers and celebrities who only want to give back to the troops. It means a lot to me that they would take time out of their busy schedules to do this, but it means a great deal more to the men and women down range and in harm’s way. It’s going to be a great trip.

James Gandolfini: Our troops are some of the brightest and bravest men and women I’ve ever met. Sadly, they don’t always get the appreciation and recognition they deserve. The USO allows me the privilege to meet them in person, show them my gratitude and thank them for their service.

Rose McGowan: Having the opportunity to travel on a USO tour with Admiral Mullen and visit our nation’s troops was the opportunity of a lifetime. My eyes were opened like never before and I walked away with a greater sense of pride, respect and honor. I know countless others have said it before, but I am forever changed.

Jon Stinchcomb: So many of my fellow teammates and friends have gone out on entertainment tours and told me about how great their experience was visiting and uplifting troops. Now, I can finally relate to them and tell others how important it is to work with the USO and support our troops. War or no war, our soldiers are remarkable and need our support.

Tony Sirico: I went into my second USO tour thinking it was going to be the same or similar to my first visit back in ’04. But it was different. I could see the progress and just how far we’ve come. I am proud of each and every one of our men and women in uniform who stepped up to the plate. It’s a spiritual thing to me. We play touch guys on TV but me and Jimmy agree, you don’t know tough until you see our troops over there.

Now check out the pictures!

New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb visits with soldiers at Kabul Airfield in Afghanistan on March 31, 2010, during a seven-day USO tour led by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen. This is the NFL player's first USO tour. (USO photo by Fred Greaves)

Actress Rose McGowan gives a thumbs-up after looking into the cockpit of a A-10 Warthog during a USO tour stop on an airforce flightline on March 30, 2010. (USO photo by Fred Greaves)

Troops wait in line to get autographs and photos with some of their favorite stars, (R-L starting in lower right) actors Tony Sirico and James Gandolfini, along with New Orleans Saints offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb and actress Rose McGowan on March 30, 2010. This trip is the first USO tour for McGowan and Stinchcomb, and the second for Gandolfini and Sirico, who traveled to Kuwait and Iraq in 2004 and brightened the day of more than 1,700 U.S. troops. (USO photo by Fred Greaves)

Actor Tony Sirico signs autographs and greets troops during a USO meet-and-greet on March 30, 2010. This is Sirico's second USO tour. (USO photo by Fred Greaves)

Actress Rose McGowan poses for a photo with SGT Frankie Keffakes during a USO meet-and-greet on March 29, 2010. McGowan is in the region as part of a seven-day overseas USO tour led by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen. (USO photo by Fred Greaves)

USO Tour Veteran/New Orleans Saints Quarterback Drew Brees Leads Team in Taking Home Football’s Most Coveted Trophy

Just in case you weren’t one of the more than 100 million viewers that tuned into CBS to watch Super Bowl XLIV…USO tour veteran and New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees helped lead his team to a 31:17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday in Miami!

Brees was recently named “FedEx Air Player of the Year” (for the second year in a row) AND he was named MVP!  Can you tell we’re proud?

New Orleans Saints QB - Drew Brees (R), signs autograghs for the troops with footballs of this tour of Forward Operating Bases in the Middle East. Brees was in the region as part of a seven-day, three-country summer USO tour led by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (USO Photo by DAVE GATLEY)

While basking in his team’s first Super Bowl win, Brees is also preparing to deploy on his fifth USO tour.  Two grandparents fought in World War II, spurring Brees to being touring with the USO in 2007.  His passion and dedication have touched the lives of thousands of troops and military families over the years.

Along the way Brees has racked up the frequent flier miles while visiting six countries: from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to Iraq, Afghanistan, Japan, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.  His USO experience memorably includes being a part of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen’s first USO tour in July 2008 (other special guests included NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora).

On behalf of the USO and the troops stationed around the world, congratulations to Drew Brees – his teammates Donnie Edwards and Billy Miller who are also going on the tour – and the New Orleans Saints for winning football’s most coveted trophy.  May you enjoy this moment and have continued success both between and beyond the goal posts!

Chairman’s Holiday Tour – Our Favorite Pics!

We see a lot here at the USO.  Our programs, services, and celebrity entertainment tours have taken us to nearly every corner of the globe.  But there’s something so very special about the holiday season – this time of year – that makes our work that much more meaningful.

We are thrilled and honored to bring you some of what might be the best pictures of the year: photos from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Holiday tour, as it makes its way through Iraq and Afghanistan.  The talent is stellar: Billy Ray Cyrus, Anna Kournikova, Dave Attell, Nick Bollettieri, and Admiral Mullen (we think he’s a celebrity!).  But it’s so much more than that.

Look at the faces of our men and women in uniform.  Check out how much fun “Santa” is having.  And realize that our job at the USO

is never done.  All we can do is provide a taste of home.  Until EVERY one comes home.