New USO Center Opens at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait

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CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – With U.S. forces slowly drawing down in the Middle East, the USO is re-allocating its resources to the remaining places it can best serve the most troops. On Nov. 3, the USO opened a new center on Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, with some of the gear that was packed up after the summer closure of USO Camp LSA on Ali al-Salem Air Base.

With many of the current personnel rotating home, the outpouring of support for the center opening was an example of service members looking out for each other.

“With a USO center on Camp Arifjan, it will be a lot easier to call home directly,” said Spec. Noshoba Ann Davis of Deville, La. “Also, I really enjoy getting to volunteer and give back to our base community.”

USO staff has been providing services and building up the center at Camp Arifjan for several weeks in anticipation of the opening.

“In the months leading up to the center being ready to open, we did a lot of outreach on base,” said DeAnne Dotson, a USO duty manager at Arifjan. “What I found was that everyone had a USO story, whether it was being stranded in an airport and finding a place to rest and a hot meal or being sent off on their deployment, or visiting a USO on a previous deployment, everyone brings that story with them. When people would hear that a USO was opening up on Camp Arifjan, they were so excited.

“The free phones and Internet are the two pillars of staying in touch with your loved ones, and already today they have proven to be a huge hit. There are no phone cards, no operators, just pick up the phone and call.”

The troops on hand were happy to talk about their appreciation for what the USO provides.

“This is my third deployment, and the USO has been with me through different stages throughout my career,” said Maj. (Chaplain) Jim Lewis of Kent, Ohio. “When I was stateside, I was working with the USO to help send off units that were deploying. My first deployment I flew out on Christmas Day, and ate Christmas dinner at the USO in the airport. I know because of all the wonderful experiences I have had with the USO around the world that my deployment at Arifjan will be much better because there is a USO center here.”

–Story and photos by Eric Raum

USO Osan Opens in South Korea

Troops and USO staffers prepare to cut the ribbon to officially open the new USO Osan on Osan Air Base, South Korea. USO photo

Troops and USO staffers prepare to cut the ribbon to officially open the new USO Osan on Osan Air Base, South Korea. USO photo

A banner year for center openings and refurbishments continued Wednesday with the opening of USO Osan, a new location inside the Osan Air Base Community Center in South Korea.

USO President Sloan Gibson and Air Force Lt. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas were among the officials who attended the ribbon cutting to open the new center.

From left, USO President Sloan Gibson, USO Pacific Regional Vice President Carly Harris and Air Force Lt. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas speak at the event. USO photo

From left, USO President Sloan Gibson, USO Pacific Regional Vice President Carly Harris and Air Force Lt. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas speak at the event. USO photo

“The USO has been an important member of the military family in Korea for more than 60 years,” Gibson said. “On the eve of America’s birthday, the USO is proud to recognize the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women and military families serving here, their constant vigilance protecting the freedoms for those of us at home.”

The center features many hallmark USO touches, including multiple, free ways to connect to loved ones back in the United States like Internet-ready computers and phones. The center will also offer core USO programming such as United Through Reading’s Military Program. USO Osan and nearby USO Camp Humphreys also plan to co-host large events like barbecues.

Visit the USO Osan Facebook page to keep up with events at the center.

–USO Story Development

USO Fort Campbell Opens

Photo by @FortCampbell

A center opening is always a happy occasion for the USO. Today we opened the 142nd USO center worldwide in Ft. Campbell, KY, home to to the 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles.”

There were brand new shiny USO signs, the ever-popular cups of coffee, troops, families, community leaders, donors and a Huey.  Yep, a Huey –  right smack dab in the middle of USO Fort Campbell.

This helicopter was recovered from a scrap yard at ft Campbell in 2010.  Thanks to the 159th combat brigade, Bravo Company  563D Aviation Support Battalion it’s now the newest, coolest gaming station you’ll ever see — and loaded with Xboxes and games thanks to Microsoft.

The 159th not only transported this helicopter, they also helped restore this UH1 Huey. Thanks to these soldiers, their labor of love will help lift the spirits of their fellow soldiers for years to come. – Gena Fitzgerald, USO VP of Communications

USO Opens Its First Center in Kansas!

(L-R) Col. Brown, Fort Riley Garrison commander; Sloan Gibson, USO president & CEO; April Blackmon, USO Fort Riley director; Mrs. Carol Brooks, wife of Maj. Gen. Vincent Brooks, commanding general of the 1st Infantry Division & Fort Riley; David McIntyre, President & CEO of TriWest Healthcare Alliance; and Brig. Gen. David Petersen, 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley deputy commanding general cut the ribbon at the grand opening on USO Fort Riley on May 25, 2010. (USO Photo by Virginia Hagin)

“USO Fort Riley is a home away from home for our service members and families – a place for them to unwind and feel comfortable. We are extremely grateful for the support of our partners and the Fort Riley community, as well as the dedication of our wonderful volunteers.” – April Blackmon, Center Director at USO Fort Riley.

This week, we opened our first center in Kansas – USO Fort Riley – to serve the more than 23,000 troops and family members stationed on one of the largest U.S. Army installations in the United States. The new center will be open 365 days a year to provide a wide variety of programs for the Fort Riley military community.

With 7,000 square feet of room, this center features a computer lab with nine computer stations and WiFi connectivity; a video gaming area with Xbox®, Sony Playstation 3, and Nintendo® Wii™ consoles; a library and family room; pool, air hockey, foosball, shuffleboard, poker and chess tables; a movie theater with a large DVD and Blu-ray library; nine televisions with DirecTV; a United Through Reading® recording area, outdoor patio, snack bar and fire place lounges.

We’d like to thank the Department of Defense for their cooperation in opening the center, and the generosity of the TriWest Healthcare Alliance, Mark Gelfand, United Renovations and Harbor Group, and donations from the public that make it all possible.  David J. McIntyre, Jr., President and CEO of TriWest Healthcare Alliance & USO Board Member has this to say: “The USO Center offers Fort Riley-based men and women a place to relax, have fun and meet friends. TriWest is proud to contribute to the construction of this new center as a thank you to Service members and their families who sacrifice so much in defense of our nation.”

We say thank you, too and can’t wait to hear the great stories from USO Fort Riley.  Enjoy more photos below!

Col. Brown, Fort Riley Garrison commander, greets center visitors at the standing-room-only USO Fort Riley grand opening on May 25, 2010. (USO Photo by Virginia Hagin)

USO Fort Riley opened to more than 100 guests on May 25, 2010, providing a "home away from home" to service members and their families. (USO Photo by Virginia Hagin)

USO Fort Riley features a computer lab with WiFi connectivity, a video gaming area, library & family rooms, game tables, movie theater, televisions, a United Through Reading® recording area, patio, snack bar and lounges. (USO Photo by Virginia Hagin)

Service members enjoy the gaming area at the new USO Fort Riley center, the first USO center in Kansas, during a grand opening celebration on May 25, 2010. (USO Photo by Virginia Hagin)

USO Fort Riley volunteers help serve dozens of troops outside of the USO Mobile Canteen during the grand opening of USO Fort Riley on May 25, 2010. (USO Photo by Virginia Hagin)

USO of Metropolitan Washington Opens USO Lounge at Joint Base Andrews Airport

Fort Myer, VA – The USO of Metropolitan Washington (USO-Metro) today opened its newly renovated USO Lounge at Joint Base Andrews. USO-Metro operates four locations in local airports to assist military travelers. USO Lounges are also located at Reagan National Airport, Baltimore/Washington International Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport.

“Intense travel schedules of today’s military put pressure not only on active duty service members, but on their families as well. Since 1941, the USO has assisted members of our armed forces, today we are excited to expand our services to those traveling through the Andrews Passenger terminal,” said Elaine Rogers, USO-Metro president. “I want to thank Maj Gen Jones, Commander Air Force District of Washington and 89th Airlift Wing, whose support made this expansion possible.”

The USO Lounge at Joint Base Andrews will be open from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. daily. The lounge will be staffed by knowledgeable USO volunteers and offer complimentary services to traveling service members and their families including:

§ Variety of snacks and beverages

§ Wireless internet

§ Two desktop computers with printing capability

§ Copy and Fax services

§ Free books and magazines

§ Shower and towel sign out

§ Toiletry items

§ Volunteers will also assist with transportation, lodging and other questions service members may have

Traveling service members seeking assistance can reach the USO Lounge at 301/981-4686.

Rebecca Hemming helps her son, Levi, 7, decide which backpack to choose as her daughter, Megan, 8, eats ice cream during a USO-sponsored free backpack and ice cream give away at the Youth Center recently. Co-hosted by the Air Force District of Washington, the backpacks were packed with school supplies by first lady Michelle Obama and her daughter. Rebecca is the wife of Petty Officer 1st Class Eric Hemming, Tactical Electronics Warfare Squadron 209 aviation machinist. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Bobby Jones)