Video

2013 Warrior Games Highlights

The fourth annual Warrior Games has come to a close in Colorado Springs, and though it was close competition with the Army in every event, the Marines brought home the Chairman’s Cup once again.

“Congratulations to all of the 2013 Warrior Games competitors,” said Charlie Huebner, chief of Paralympics for the U.S. Olympic Committee, during the closing ceremony. “While we celebrate medals, this competition is really an example of how sport can change lives. We hope these service members and veterans don’t stop here. The goal is for them to return home and get involved in sport programs in their communities.”

The competition formally ended Thursday night at the U.S. Air Force Academy in a ceremony honoring the nearly 200 wounded troops and disabled veterans who represented their services in the inaugural Warrior Games.

Troops and veterans from the U.S. and Britain competed in a week-long series of paralympic-type events at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and at the academy. They were challenged as individuals and as teams in shooting, swimming, archery, sitting volleyball, cycling, wheelchair basketball and track and field events.

The USO and all of the volunteers from Colorado were proud to stand by the side of these elite athletes throughout the week of Paralympic competition. Please enjoy this montage of footage from the past week of Warrior Games competition.

–Video and story by Joseph Andrew Lee, USO staff writer

Retroactive Stop Loss Pay: The Air Force Perspective

By Major Eries Gibson, Chief, Air Force Separations and Retirements Branch

Calling all eligible Air Force members, former Air Force members and surviving family members of former Air Force members, we have an incredible opportunity for you to receive $500 for every month you were stop lossed… but the offer is only good until 21 October 2010!

This is not a scam.  This is not a joke. There is no service commitment or recall requirement associated with the money.  The pay is for service already rendered. The only issue is, I need you to apply!  If you think you may be eligible, I need you to come forward and apply for your payout today!

The payout is $500 a month for each month, or portion of the month, you were retained on active duty as a result of service-directed stop loss. The average payout is $3,500. … I repeat, $3,500!

Where does the money come from?  The 2009 War Supplemental Appropriations Act appropriated $534.4M for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay for eligible active, Guard, reserve, retired and former service members.   If you were retained on active duty in the Air Force as a result of the service implementing stop loss during Operation Enduring Freedom between 2 October 2001 and 1 August 2002 or Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom between 2 May 2003 and 23 Jun 2003, you need to apply for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay.

With less than 45 days left to submit claims under this program, I encourage you to apply now if you believe you may be eligible.  If you believe someone you know may be eligible, please “Tell A Friend” and encourage them to apply.  It costs nothing to apply and the process is quick.  While my office oversees the policy for all current and former Airmen, the program is open to all services…I repeat, open to Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines.  The eligibility timeframe for all services is 11 Sep 01 to 30 Sep 09.

Please visit the DoD website today and apply before the program ends on 21 Oct 10: http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2010/0710_stoploss/.

The monthly payout is $500, the average payout is $3,500, and the cost to apply is $0!  Don’t wait, apply today!

Black History Month and the USO

Black History Month traces its roots to the work of Carter G. Woodson, who – in 1926 designated a week in February to reflect on the contributions of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass to the lives of African Americans.  Nearly a century later we observe “Black History Month.”

The US Military has a long tradition of African Americans serving.  And although the military was not legally desegregated until 1948 by President Harry S Truman, the USO served the needs of Black service members from the outset.

African American soldiers relax at a USO Center in the early 1940s

In 1942, a USO Club opened in Hattiesburg, MS, specifically for African American soldiers; it is the only extant USO Center built for that purpose.  In 2003 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places and is home to Hattiesburg’s African American Military Museum.

From the beginning, USO policy expressly forbade discrimination on the basis of race or creed, but as Gretchen Knapp explained in “Experimental Social Policymaking During World War II: The United Service Organizations (USO) and American War-Community Services (AWCS),” it was not uncommon for separate USO Centers to spring up in the same town, “either because of local regulations or by the request of African Americans who deplored the tensions that arose when they entered the USO center.”

USO Centers designed exclusively for Black soldiers soon sprung up around the country, including Tacoma, WA; Tuscon, AZ; San Marcos, TX; and Portland, OR, just to name a few.  In fact, by 1943, “more than 180 of 1,326 USO operations were designated for African Americans.” (ibid)

African American serviceman, being greeted at the front desk of a USO Center, 1943.

As the military integrated, so did USO Centers, many of whom also opened their doors to female service members around the same time.  The impact of those early, segregated clubs was felt, however, in a lasting acknowledgement and respect for the service of Black Troops during World War II and the idea that a “home away from home” was available to anyone visiting a USO Center.

Today the USO and the US Military continue to recognize the contributions of African Americans from every branch of the military.  The Coast Guard has announced the soon-to-be released documentary “RESCUE MEN: The Story of the Pea Island Life Savers,” the story of the Pea Island Lifesaving Station surfmen.  The Marines are celebrating the legacy of African American Marines with a multi-media project entitled “The Line.”  One part of that project is this commercial:

Other branches are celebrating, too: the Navy’s remembers the “Golden 13″ and offers a series of events at the Navy Memorial; a number of Air Force Bases are holding celebrations, such as the Gospel Extravaganza at Offut AFB.  The Army has created a website, “African Americans in the U.S. Army,” chock full of unique content on the history of Black soldiers.  Likewise, Military.com is offering exclusive content on the history of African American service, from the Buffalo Soldiers to the Tuskegee Airman to current Troops.  Speaking of the Tuskegee Airman, George Lucas’ film Red Tails – the story of the Tuskegee Airman – will be released later in 2010.

As of June 2009 Black troops account for 239,661(17%) of total active duty (Total Pop 1,405,489) and minority women continue to join the military at a higher rate than their share in the civilian population.  We salute these service members – and all African Americans who have served in the US military – during Black History Month and every day of the year!