Image

USO, Jack Daniel’s Team Up to Toast to the Troops

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


More than 5,000 Operation USO Care Packages were assembled Thursday by military spouses as part of the 20th “Toast to the Troops” care package assembly event. USO North Carolina volunteers and Jack Daniel’s employees took part in the event at the Fort Bragg fairgrounds. Following the assembly event, country music star and Army veteran Craig Morgan treated more than 3,000 troops, military families and members of the Fort Bragg community to a free concert.

“If it were not for these men and women who are serving, the people we are packing these bags for, we would not live in the country we live in today,” Morgan said.  “And it is imperative that we take care of them.”

The USO and Jack Daniel’s have worked together on these events for eight years. The USO has distributed more than 2.3 million care packages since the program began in 2003.  In addition to providing service men and women with needed items, the care packages serve as a touch of home and a reminder to our troops that America is always by their side.

–Story by USO Story Development

Congressmen Speak Out on Military Suicide Rate

Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) goes through the line at the Operation USO Care Package assembly event on Sept. 11 in Washington, D.C. USO photo by Mike Theiler

Seventy members of Congress turned out for an Operation USO Care Package (OUCP) assembly event on September 11 in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C. But putting together the much-appreciated bags of goodness for troops downrange wasn’t the only thing on their minds.

September is Suicide Prevention Month, and with the staggering rise in military suicides in recent years—as of July the Army was on pace for a 200 suicides this year alone—there appears to be an even greater drive to address the issue than ever before. The USO spoke to a few Congressmen who attended the OUCP event about the rising rates of suicide in America’s military ranks. Here are their thoughts:

Rep. Sylvestre Reyes (D-TX), founding co-chair of the USO Congressional Caucus

“I am proud that Fort Bliss is leading the way through mental health screening and counseling in the Army. It’s something we want to keep supporting and pushing forward so that not a single military person feels the desperation to have to contemplate committing suicide. Only then can we as a nation say that we’ve done everything we can to support our men and women in uniform and their families, because the solution is going to be to involve the families so they can have that support system.”

Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA), member of the USO Congressional Caucus

“The main thing is getting them together with their loved ones. A lot of the suicides are over personal relationships that may have deteriorated while [a service member] is overseas. … There’s a whole host of things. Some of it is a direct result of PTSD and traumatic brain injury. I think we have a responsibility to deal with it. They suffer enough and risk enough when they’re in a combat position, that suffering and risk [should] not continue when they get home. They need to be embraced by their families, their loved ones, their communities and this country.”

If you are a service member or veteran dealing with tough times—or are concerned about a member of the military family in this type of situation—visit the Veterans Crisis Line at veterancrisisline.net or call 1-800-273-8255.

— Eric Brandner, USO Director of Story Development 

Clinton and College Students Fill 5,000 USO Care Packages

Former President Bill Clinton joined hundreds of college students from across America and around the world to stuff more than 5,000 USO Care Packages over the weekend.

The service project at Kelly Miller Middle School in Northeast Washington, DC, was the final event of the fifth annual Clinton Global Initiative University.   The former president’s foundation brought together more than 1,000 young people from 300 college and universities for workshops with leaders in business and government.  Students also participated in hands-on volunteer projects.

Chelsea Clinton and several NFL players pitched in to help the students and USO volunteers fill packages with toiletries and treats for our troops overseas.

USO Photos by Joseph Andrew Lee, USO Staff Writer

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

USO Boca Java Partnership

We are proud to announce our newest partnership with Boca Java as we work together to lift the spirits of our troops and families!

Boca Java™, a family-owned Colorado Coffee company, is a national provider of over 100 different artisan roast-to-order coffees. In October 2003, a soldier in Iraq contacted Boca Java requesting a coffee donation. The letter went on to explain there were many things the troops have to go without, but a few things, like a good cup of coffee would really be appreciated. Boca Java mailed out several boxes and received a nice email back in November of 2003 that demonstrated how much they appreciated the support.

Since 2005, Boca Java and their customers have donated over 7.6 Million cups of fresh roasted coffee to troops serving honorably overseas. Now, in 2012, the USO has partnered with Boca Java to bring coffee to our troops around the world. Boca Java will match each bag donated by our customers to support the USO2GO program until the end of the year.

Head on over to the official partner site today and for as little at $7.99, you can donate a bag of coffee to the troops and Boca Java will match your donation bag for bag! – Joseph P. Scannell, New Media Intern

USO Baghdad Supports the Sisterhood Against Sexual Assault

USO Baghdad Duty Manager Robin Symes (l) hands out USO Care Packages and Girl Scout cookies to smiling Troops. Enjoy a Trefoil for us!

Operation USO Care Package is one of our most popular programs here at the USO.  In the past few months we’ve created exclusive care packages for female Troops, and introduced a new program of care packages just for families.  For those of us who pack these goodies into the bags and boxes, it’s great to know that what we’re sending off is received and greatly appreciated on the other end. (Not that there was any doubt!)

We were thrilled to receive word this weekend that the Female Care Packages, in particular, are being utilized as part of a larger program of support in Baghdad.  Here’s a great note from our center there…

Care packages designed just for female Troops were packed last November on Capital Hill and are still making their way overseas!

USO Baghdad Duty Managers Megan Lynch and Robin Symes took Operation Cookie Drop and the USO’s Operation Care Package to Camp Victory’s Hope Chapel to support the Sisterhood Against Sexual Assault. SASA is a unique program to combat Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment in the military. It is focused on Senior Female Leadership providing mentorship to our future generations of military female leaders.

During monthly meetings, women and men come together to share experiences and build the skills necessary to combat alarming statistics of harassment and assault during deployment. This month, CSM Williams spoke to the group addressing the theme “Your Best You.”  Afterward, everyone had a chance to mingle and walk away with a USO care package!

A standard USO Care Package contains items like pre-paid international phone cards, toiletries, periodicals, and a deck of cards, among other oft-requested items.

For more information on the Sisterhood Against Sexual Assault please visit their Facebook page.

A $25 donation sponsors one USO care package and allows you to include a personal message of support and appreciation.  Click here to request a care package for a member of our troops.