Announcing This Year’s GI Film Festival!

USO CEO & President Sloan Gibson greets actor Faizon Love at the ON PATROL launch party screening of Taking Chance at 2009's GI Film Festival.

The GI Film Festival (GIFF) is back in DC for this fourth annual event designed specifically to “celebrate the successes and sacrifices of the American military through the medium of film.”

Last year saw the premiere of Taking Chance, a film starring Kevin Bacon that is inspired by the true events surrounding one Marine’s death and the military escort officer who returns him home.  That screening kicked off the official launch of ON PATROL – The Magazine of the USO.  The film Valkyrie also received a special screening just for wounded warriors courtesy of USO of Metropolitan Washington.

This year’s festival includes an equally fantastic lineup, including USO favorite Gary Sinise’s “Lt. Dan Band: For the Common Good,” which chronicles his band’s journey around the globe in support of our Troops.  The documentary screens on Thursday, May 15th and is part of an entire evening dedicated to honoring wounded warriors.  Tickets are still available.

The entire festival runs from Tuesday, May 11 through Sunday, May 16 and includes feature films, documentaries, shorts’ series, and discussion panels from actors, directors, and producers.  There’s even a bootcamp for aspiring filmmakers.

Can’t make it to DC for the festivities?  Be sure to check out the website for film trailers, the GIFF blog, and much more!  And be sure to enjoy the official GIFF trailer below…

Bush Library Celebrates the USO!

The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum is in College Station, TX.

George Bush, 41st president of the United States, and Mrs. Barbara Bush will host an event celebrating the USO and its role in lifting the spirits of America’s men and women in uniform and their families. Event panelists will include Gary Sinise, a film and TV star; Mayra Veronica, singer and model; Major General Jeffery W. Hammond, U.S. Army, chief of staff of U.S. Forces Command; and Sloan Gibson, the 22nd president and CEO of United Service Organizations (USO).

The doors will open at 3:00 p.m. A limited number of free tickets are available in the Bryan-College Station community at the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum, Texas A&M University’s MSC Box Office, B-CS Convention and Visitors Bureau, The Eagle, KBTX, and WTAW. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.

Lt. Dan Band: For the Common Good - watch the trailer of this moving documentary at

The event will include remarks from the panelists about the ongoing mission of the USO and an audience question-and-answer session. The forum will be followed by a reception and screening of the award-winning film The Lt. Dan Band: For the Common Good, which will be hosted by Jonathan Flora, the film’s director.  The USO event will also have a Mobile Canteen on hand.  Attendees will be able to contribute to the USO’s efforts by donating supplies including toiletries and items to benefit deployed troops.  The items can be dropped off beginning at 12:00 pm at the Mobile USO at the George Bush Presidential Library Center. For a list of suggested items, click here.

Even if you can’t make it to College Station, though, you should be able to watch some of the event live on C-SPAN and the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum website.  We’ll give you more details as they become available.

Community Strong Photo Album

The Community Strong event at Ford Hood last Friday was a smashing success.  We’d like to thank everyone who came out to support the men, women, and children of Fort Hood on a day of remembrance and celebration.  The effervescent spirit of this community cannot be denied!

We are especially proud of our own USO employees and volunteers from the Killeen, TX, area.  As the Killeen Daily Herald so eloquently put it, “…on Friday, the community that so recently joined together in mourning now came together in celebration of life and a bright future. The show of support and kindness particularly from those wearing the very recognizable USO logo was nearly overwhelming.”  And we couldn’t have done it without your support!

It’s not too late to leave a message for at the website.  And your donations will continue to support those most in need in the Fort Hood Community.  Again, a TREMENDOUS thank you goes out to all the celebrity entertainers, participants, attendees, and behind-the-scenes movers and shakers who make Friday such an overwhelming success.  Fort Hood is and will continue to be “Community Strong”!

(USO Photos by Mark Matson)

Entertainers Show How America Supports the Troops

While Fort Hood’s “Community Strong” supporters thanked entertainers and celebrities for taking the time to come to Fort Hood on a cold, blustery Friday, it was the celebrities who thanked the troops for having them.

“I just got back from Afghanistan and spent Thanksgiving with the troops,” said actor Gary Sinise, who also leads the LT Dan Band, which goes on frequent USO tours around the world.

“After (the Nov. 5 tragedy), I felt it was important to show our support for Fort Hood,” Sinise said. He said taking a little time isn’t hard for him — but he knows it can make a difference.

“Just showing up and shaking hands … can make a world of difference,” he said.

Sinise, along with singer Aaron Lewis of Staind, rapper Chamillionaire, Nick Jonas and the Zac Brown Band make up the entertainment for “Community Strong,” as serviceman and their families  line the stands and field of Fort Hood Stadium for a day of fun and healing. Carnival Rides, free food and  entertainment are helping to bring together the Fort Hood community through tonight.

III Corps Commander General Robert W. Cone said it wasn’t just having celebrities and entertainers on hand that makes “Community Strong” a great event. It shows the Fort Hood community that America cares.

“Everybody knows ‘Army Strong’ is our motto, but we know … that a whole community needs to be strong,” Cone said. “America and the Central Texas community is in this together.”

Read more from “On the Frontlines”

The USO in Afghanistan

The USO has and will continue to provide a touch of home to our Troops deployed in Afghanistan.  Here’s a quick recap of some of our most memorable moments there over the past few years!