Are You a Rugged Maniac? Join Team USO

How far are you willing to go to support our troops? Would you leap over burning coals? Low-crawl through the mud under barbed wire? Traverse cargo netting, hop through a series of tires and navigate a balance beam over a pit?

If you want an opportunity to challenge your endurance and reach physical goals you never thought possible in support of troops and their families, then you should join Team USO this year for a Rugged Maniac 5K Obstacle Race.

“We’re very excited about the good things we can accomplish together,” Rugged Races CEO Bradford Scudder said. “The USO’s mission aligns with that of Rugged Maniac by recognizing and supporting our troops and their families.”

Rugged Maniac – which has announced 22 events in 2013 and expects more than 200,000 participants – hopes to raise $1 million in support of the USO.

“It’s a realistic goal,” Scudder said. “If each of our participants donates $5, we’ll get there. And this is a wonderful cause, so of course there will be individuals who’ll go above and beyond that $5 donation.”

From boot camp to battlefield back home again, the USO is the only organization that always stands by the side of troops and their families. Team USO members are crucial to supporting that cause.

–Video and Story by Joseph Andrew Lee, USO Staff Writer

At Home In Our Hearts

Today, as they do every day, our brave servicemen and women are going to extraordinary lengths to protect our freedoms and defend our way of life.

During this holiday season, I’m asking you to take a moment to thank our troops and honor their service.

Your At Home In Our Hearts donation will allow us to translate your heartfelt “thank you” into the vitally important programs and services that mean so much to our troops.

Click here to make your contribution to support of our troops. Make your At Home In Our Hearts donation to the USO today and we’ll send you an American flag as a token of our appreciation.

Screen Shot 2012-12-27 at 11.35.53 AMI am immensely proud to be a part of an organization dedicated to being on the frontlines with our servicemen and women and standing side-by-side with our wounded troops recovering here at home.

As part of the At Home In Our Hearts campaign, the USO will provide our troops with free phone calls home, wounded warrior recovery care packages, mobile USO2GO kits that bring a touch of home to our troops serving in even the most remote outposts abroad.

So whether they’re serving on the frontlines or recovering here at home, you can let our troops know they’re always At Home In Our Hearts.

Make your year-end donation to the USO today and get your American flag.

I want to say “thank you” for all you have done and continue to do for our troops especially, particularly around the holidays. I can’t tell you how grateful they are to know supporters like you are standing by their side and supporting them. – Brigadier General John Pray, USAF (Ret.)

Georgia Couple Rallies Support for USO

Jack and Pat Solomon, decade-long USO Georgia volunteers, at their home outside of Atlanta, GA. USO photo by Joseph Andrew Lee

If you are in the military and have spent any time at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, you have probably been hugged at least once by Pat Solomon.

She and her husband Jack–a graduate of West Point–are two of the many friendly, welcoming and warm couples who volunteer at USO Georgia. For the past 10 years, the Solomons have worked at least three days per week at the Atlanta airport USO, but more recently they have embarked on a new mission—fundraising.

Throughout the summer the Solomons will travel over 1,000 miles to visit more than 100 Kangaroo Express stores in Georgia, dropping off USO fundraising materials and engaging with employees to officially launch the Kangaroo Express Salute Our Troops campaign.

Involving more than 1,600 Kangaroo Express stores, the Salute Our Troops campaign is the largest grassroots fundraising initiative the USO has ever participated in, raising $1.3 million for the USO in its first year.

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, custom painted vehicles and decorated veterans of the recent wars will travel throughout the South capturing the attention of Kangaroo Express guests and educating the public on problems facing the military and military families.

According to USO account manager Kirk Parker, the campaign has been such a success because of patriots like the Solomons who literally go the extra mile to develop a personal relationship with Kangaroo Express staff and management of every store in their area.

“We do what we can do here because these men and women are doing what they can over there,” said Jack Solomon. “Our small contribution of time and gas pales in comparison to the sacrifices being made by our sons and daughters overseas. It’s our way of saying ‘Thank You’ to them for volunteering to serve. Not everyone can, and not everyone will. We must recognize and honor this.”

“She (Pat) is the biggest military cheerleader you’ve ever seen,” he added. “She absolutely lives and breathes the USO and the support for our troops. We believe that energy is contagious—it can be spread to the staff of Kangaroo so that they bring the same energy toward troop support you might find at an actual USO.”

“He is the reason I do it,” said Pat. “He and every other American who has ever served this country—I love them all.” — By Joseph Andrew Lee, USO Staff Writer

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College Humvee Contest Puts the Fun in Fundraising

Bake sale, raffle, spaghetti dinner—all perfectly respectable ways to support your favorite charity.

But if you prefer something a little edgier, try gathering some friends for a man-versus-machine showdown against a 5,000 pound Humvee.

Students at Johns Hopkins University raise more than $2,000 for the USO at a Humvee pushing contest on April 28th sponsored by Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. Photo courtesy Michael St. Germain.

That’s exactly what dozens of college students did in April, in a high-energy Humvee pushing competition sponsored by the Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji) fraternity at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore—all to raise money for the USO.

Event organizer Michael St. Germain, a 19-year-old international studies major and Army ROTC cadet, says his fraternity president had asked him to come up with fundraising ideas for the USO.

At the same time he heard about a Humvee push as part of an ROTC competition. In fact, the military frequently uses Humvee pushing as a training and team building exercise.

“It just kind of clicked,” says St. Germain, “To have people pay to push a Humvee.”

He devised a simple yet original fundraising plan to appeal to a college crowd.
Students entered the contest in teams of ten, with a minimum of three girls per team. The entry fee was $10 per person. Each group had to push the Humvee about 50 meters through a campus parking lot until they hit a mark, then turn around and push it back.

The campus ROTC leader helped secure a military Humvee, local restaurants donated gift cards for prizes, and on a cool, gray Saturday morning, about 150 students turned out to flex their muscles against three tons of camouflage-colored steel on wheels.

“As soon as we heard about the Humvee push, it caught everyone’s attention because it’s so unique and it sounded like a good challenge,” says Kale Sweeney, who belongs to another campus fraternity.

Sweeney’s team, composed entirely of varsity athletes from the men’s football and women’s soccer teams, took first place, completing the course in just 44.2 seconds.

With 13 teams competing, plus some extra donations, Fiji raised about $2,000 for the USO.

“It’s nothing to sneeze at for a grassroots effort by 19- and 20-year-olds who haven’t done this kind of thing before,” says Pamela Horton from the USO of Metropolitan Washington.

The USO and Fiji began a national partnership last year, and so far more than 20 Fiji chapters have held fundraisers.

At Johns Hopkins, St. Germain says the intra-fraternity council has struggled to schedule solid, on-campus events, and the Humvee push was so popular, they’ve asked him to plan it again in the fall.

“There’s only about 5,000 kids on campus, and especially for a first time event, getting 150 people is pretty good,” he says. “It provided a great opportunity to have fun on campus, but also raise money for an excellent charity.” – Malini Wilkes, USO Director of Story Development

Be a Team USO Athlete

Have you ever wanted to support the troops and their families but didn’t know how? Are you a runner? Have you heard of Team USO? I think it’s about time you have! Team USO was developed as a response to people like you looking for new and fun ways to support our troops.  Through Team USO, we provide great resources for athletes and supporters to serve out mission on the ground.

Team USO athletes post-race

Team USO athletes are able to race all over the world while raising money for our troops. Whether you are already signed up for a race or planning on your next one, Team USO can help. If you choose your own event you can set your own fundraising goal. If you are trying to get into a sold-out race, though, we offer guaranteed race entries in exchange for a minimum fundraising goal!

When you join Team USO, you aren’t alone. We provide a wealth of resources and some great looking gear! As a member the USO will support you in whatever ways possible, like:

  • Fundraising toolkits
  • Support from a fundraising professional
  • Training support—training calendar, mentoring
  • Mission Moments—help you connect with troops and military families to participate in honor of
  • Prizes for reaching certain fundraising levels

Online registration is now open for the 2012 Honda LA Marathon to be held on Sunday, March 18. This is one of the largest road races in the world and the race is expected to sell out. Runners can secure their spot on the starting line by registering here. Just 25 spots are available for Team USO.

We are also proud to be among the New York Road Runners’ official charity partners for the 2012 New York City Half-Marathon! We only have 15 race registrations available so click here to register today.

Help lift the spirits of our troops and their families by joining Team USO today and get to work tomorrow! – Joe Scannell, USO New Media Intern

They’re Here! USO Internship Opportunities for Fall/Winter 2010

We had a great summer here at the USO, and it was made even better by all of the amazing interns who gave their time, talents, and energy to our mission.

Let your voice be heard in showing support for our Troops. Join the USO with an internship today!

The USO is pleased again to offer internships for credit or for practical work experience during fall/winter 2010.  The internships will begin in September, 2010 and are located at the USO offices in Arlington, VA.  Interns must be available to work onsite; a parking or transportation allowance is provided.

Internships are available in the two departments:

Communications:

  • Two positions are available with a focus in Marketing and Digital Asset Management, although writing and research play a key role.  Applicants matriculating degrees in Communications, Marketing, Journalism, or Digital Media are strongly encouraged to apply. The ability to use both Mac and PC, familiarity with Adobe CS4, and proficiency in social media channels are highly desired.  Experience working with historical documents is a plus.  Be prepared to be a self starter, think creatively, and have a lot of fun!  Click here to send an email with your resume and cover letter.  Please use “USO Communications Internship” in your subject heading.

Fundraising and Development:

  • Two positions are available in working with TEAM USO and the CFC campaign.  The ideal applicant will assist in the goal of recruiting 1000 fundraising volunteers by December 31, 2010.  Other duties include formulating and executing an approved plan; working with team on cultivation of these fundraising volunteers; assisting with CFC promotion and recruitment; working with team on communication plan to past donors; participating in table displays/talks with federal employees as needed; and researching other CFC and USO opportunities related to these areas.  Click here to send an email with your resume and cover letter.
  • Two positions are available in researching and prospecting donors.  The ideal applicant will assist in the tracking of the development pipeline and supporting corporate alliance events.  Other duties include creating research binders include information such as company history, mission, current marketing strategy, list of board members, other nonprofit partners; researching nonprofits with previous USO support histories and/or military affiliation;  and working on events such as the USO Gala, Care Package Stuffing Parties, and Partner Quarterly Webinars.  Click here to send an email with your resume and cover letter.  Please state “USO Fundraising and Development Internship” as your subject heading.

Email inquiries only; no phone calls, please.