Last week I had the honor of joining servicemen and women, donors, construction representatives, and USO staff to enjoy the topping out ceremony for the new USO Warrior and Family Center in Ft. Belvoir, Virginia.
Most topping out ceremonies celebrate the completion of the building’s structure, a milestone for the construction team. Our ceremony was more than that. We weren’t just celebrating the halfway mark of the building’s construction. We were celebrating what the new center will be for wounded, ill and injured (WII) troops, their families, caregivers and families of the fallen.
Come January, the large skeleton of the USO Warrior and Family Center will be transformed into a place where our country’s WII troops can go to escape the hospital, relax, and have fun during their journey to recovery.
The USO Warrior and Family Center will offer a caring environment where the healing that has begun, can accelerate. It will be a focal point for support; a place of respite and recreation; a place of normalcy to bring family together; and a place to prepare for a happy and fulfilling life ahead.
As I saw the final beam lifted into the sky and lowered into place atop the center, I couldn’t help but smile as I envisioned the center being utilized by WII troops every day. Many of the proud faces around me were delighted, too, and I thought they must be thinking the same thing.
Did you know?
- Since the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 40,000 troops have been visibly wounded began, and more than 300,000 troops suffer from invisible wounds.
- Only 12-14% of WII patients are injured in combat.
- Many WII patients are injured during training.
The Fort Belvoir USO Warrior and Family Center:
- Inside: communal kitchen, dining area, game room, theater, classroom, business center, study areas, community room, therapeutic enrichment room, respite lounge, and more.
- Outside: grill area, terrace, and healing gardens
- This center is designed for warriors to have easy access and mobility throughout these spaces.
- The USO Warrior and Family Center in Ft. Belvoir is the first of two centers specifically for our nation’s WII troops. The second center will be built near the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.
To join the USO in supporting these heroes please visit www.uso.org/oec
- Sarah Camille Hipp, Communications Specialist