New Honor Guard Lounge Opens at the Fort Myer Community Center

President of USO of Metropolitan D.C., Elaine Rogers (center), stands with the president and CEO of Harkins Builders, Richard M. Lombardo (left) and Army Major General Karl Horst, commanding general of Joint Force Headquarters—National Capitol Region and The U.S Military District of Washington to cut the ribbon in front of the lounge, September 8, 2010. (USO photo by Joe Lee)

By Joe Lee, ON★PATROL Staff Writer

USO Metropolitan Washington celebrated the opening of the new Honor Guard Lounge inside the Fort Myer Community Center yesterday with a well-attended ribbon cutting ceremony.

Event speakers included Army Major General Karl Horst, commanding general of Joint Force Headquarters—National Capitol Region and The U.S Military District of Washington; Army Colonel Carl Coffman, joint base commander; and Elaine Rogers, president of USO of Metropolitan D.C..

The lounge is specifically dedicated to the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who serve on the honor guard—charged with burying our fallen warriors at Arlington National Cemetary.

There isn’t a more deserving unit, Coffman said,  as he recalled waking up every morning to a caisson rolling past his home during his first few days as base commander.

“It was a sobering reminder for me,” said Coffman. “Burying our heroes is the most important thing the honor guard does, and they truly are the standard to which we are all held.”

A group of Air Force and Army honor guard members relax in the movie lounge. (USO photo by Joe Lee)

The state-of-the-art lounge boasts a gaming center, a 52-inch plasma TV, five computer workstations, a movie theatre and even a real theatre-style popcorn popper.

“The honor guard delivers first class service to our fallen heroes, and they deserve a first class facility to serve them—I hope this lounge meets and exceeds those expectations,” said Rogers.

Special thanks were given to major contributors Harkins Builders and Quest Software who helped make this $250,000 lounge a reality.

“It’s no surprise that the lounge far exceeds our expectations,” said Coffman. “We never had any doubt.”

Airman First Class Dane Daproza plays Wii in the new honor guard lounge. (USO photo by Joe Lee)

President and CEO of Harkins Builders, Richard M. Lombardo (right) receives the commander’s coin from Army Major General Karl Horst, commanding general of Joint Force Headquarters—National Capitol Region and The U.S Military District of Washington. Miss Virginia, Caitlin Uze, stands between them for the photograph. (USO photo by Joe Lee)

The Importance of Partnerships

By Nick Wakeman, originally published in Washington Technology

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

Elaine Rogers has been president of the USO of Metropolitan Washington for 34 years, and during that time, she’s dealt with legendary stars and chief executives of huge corporations. She’s also helped countless soldiers and their families.

All the while, she’s led an organization that continually adapts to new demands while staying focused on an unchanging mission: supporting the members of the military and their families. She spoke recently with Editor-in-Chief Nick Wakeman about how the USO has changed and the role corporate sponsors play.

WT: What has kept you in this job for so long?
Rogers: I love working with the military, and I love working with the volunteers. You get to see the good in people who want to give back and support our military.

The USO is never the same thing every day. The challenge of bringing so many people together to make something happen is the most exciting part of the job.

WT: Describe the role corporate sponsors play. How has the nature of giving changed?
Rogers: Without them, the USO wouldn’t exist. We work off the generosity of the corporations who want to give back to us because, in many cases, they are supporting their customers.

It used to be they would write a check. But today, when we are in discussions about giving to the USO, we are also in discussions about how they can help us beyond that.

These folks really want to give back — and not just dollars. Most of the corporations who donate to our USO also are getting their employees involved. They want their employees at the airports, handing out care packages, or at the hospitals.

Click here to read the rest of the interview!

USO-Metro Opens New Center at Dahlgren!

Preparing to officially open the new Dahlgren USO Center at Naval Support Facility Dahlgren are (l. to r.) Mariellen Curtis, the center's manager; John Marselle, board chairman for USO of Metropolitan Washington; Caitlin Uze, Miss Virginia 2010; Capt. Catie Hanft, commanding officer for Naval Support Activity South Potomac; and Elaine Rogers, president of USO-Metro. (Photo by Gary Wagner)

USO of Metropolitan Washington recently opened a new center at Dahlgren Navy Base in Virginia and one of the highlights is the inclusion of a Sesame Street Room!

The Sesame Rooms project is an exciting extension of Sesame Workshop’s ongoing Talk, Listen, Connect program for military families and the one at Dahlgren will be completed within the next few months.  “The challenges our military and their families face today have never been greater,” Elaine Rogers, president of USO of Metropolitan Washington, explained during the opening ceremony.  “With this center, we hope to make a positive change in that process. We will do it through laughter, through activities and amenities and in ways the USO is known for bringing joy into people’s lives.”

One guest in particular stood out from the crowd of over 100 in attendance: Miss Virginia 2010, Caitlin Uze.  ‘‘All of America understands that because of what you do, we enjoy the freedom we have today,” said Uze in expressing her appreciation for the U.S. armed services.  ‘‘I take every opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to our military personnel and their families for the sacrifices they make for all of us.”

Other amenities at the Dahlgren USO Center include a TV area with movie library, free wi-fi throughout the building, computer stations with Internet, a gaming area with Xbox 360, and much more!  If you know of Troops and families traveling through this area, we invite you to let them know about this great new facility.

We’ll keep you posted on the progress of the Sesame Street Room.  In the meantime, click here to see what a difference the Sesame Room at McGuire AFB made for military families…and let us know what you think!