We Celebrate the Grand Opening of USO El Paso, Alongside FirstLight Federal Credit Union

Soldiers help Karl Murphy, FirstLight Federal Credit Union president, cut the ribbon during the grand opening ceremony on April 15, 2010. (USO Photo by El Paso Portraits)

The USO and FirstLight Federal Credit Union opened conjoined, brand new centers, continuing their commitment to service members stationed on Fort Bliss.   These new facilities will serve more than 37,000 troops and 53,000 military family members expected on Fort Bliss by 2012.   USO El Paso also supports troops stationed in New Mexico and on White Sands Missile Range and Holloman Air Force Base.

Yolanda Castillo is the Director of USO El Paso and has this to say about the new center: “On-going community support of our new USO facility at East Fort Bliss has enabled the thousands of troops at Fort Bliss to find a true ‘home away from home’.  Our new center is bright and welcoming, and will offer troops a pleasant respite from their daily military duties. We are very grateful for the generous support from FirstLight Federal Credit Union and the El Paso community!”

Located at the northeast corner of Constitution and Sgt. Major Blvd, the new building is situated in the heart of Fort Bliss.  This is USO El Paso’s second location on Fort Bliss, creating one of the largest combined footprints on any military installation.  The new 6,400 square foot USO center boasts more than 30 Internet enabled computer stations, three flat screen televisions, Blu-ray players, six Xbox® 360 consoles, pool tables, a kitchen area, lounge, lending library, snack bar and large outdoor patio.

New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman said, “The new center on Fort Bliss will help meet the quickly escalating demand from the many soldiers and their families new to the base and the remaining thousands arriving in the next few years. The FirstLight-USO partnership is one that is above and beyond the usual, and one that will improve the lives of many in a meaningful way.”

Check out more photos below!

The new 6,400 square foot USO center has 40 Internet enabled computer stations, 3 flat screen televisions, Blu-ray players, 6 Xbox® 360 consoles, pool tables, a kitchen area, lounge, lending library and outdoor patio. (USO Photo by El Paso Portraits)

USO president, Sloan Gibson, acknowledges media during the USO El Paso and FirstLight Federal Credit Union grand opening celebration on April 15, 2010. (USO Photo by El Paso Portraits)

USO El Paso Programs Manager, Robert Medrano (R), chats with a center volunteer during the USO El Paso and FirstLight Federal Credit Union grand opening celebration on April 15, 2010. (USO Photo by El Paso Portraits)

The USO's Mobile Canteen traveled to Fort Bliss to greet and serve troops and their families during the USO El Paso and FirstLight Federal Credit Union's grand opening celebration on April 15, 2010. (USO Photo by El Paso Portraits)

Yolanda Castillo, director of USO El Paso, greets guests during the grand opening of USO El Paso and FirdtLight Federal Credit Union's first conjoined center on Fort Bliss. (USO Photo by El Paso Portraits)

Renovation and Expansion for USO San Antonio

The USO Center at the San Antonio International Airport has recently completely a renovation and expansion process!  At 5,100 square feet, the center certainly lives up to the motto that “Everything’s Bigger in Texas.”  With room for a computer center, a theater, snack bar, television, pool tables, gaming rooms, and a space set aside just for kids, there’s something for everyone.

San Antonio, TX, is located at a nexus of Troop activity, with Fort Sam Houston, Lackland Air Force Base, Brooks City-Base, and Brooke Army Medical Center.  Because of their proximity to BAMC, the center will also feature activities and entertainment designed specifically for wounded Troops.

We’re thrilled to expand the services and space available at USO San Antonio and invite Troops and their families to stop by and see is on their way through the airport! Check out some pics from yesterday’s Grand Reopening festivities…

USO San Antonio Center Director, Shari Jenson (center), joins to Brig. Gen. Leonard A. Patrick, Commander, 502nd Air Base Wing, Fort Sam Houston, Texas (far L); Sloan Gibson, USO president; Edward Reilly, USO Board of Governors Chair at the USO San Antonio Grand Re-Opening celebration on April 7, 2010. (USO Photo by PhotoFino)

Local service members join Shari Jenson, USO San Antonio Center Director (center); William Moll, former Chair of the USO Board of Governors (far L); and Sloan Gibson, USO president (far R) as they hold up Nintendo® Wii™ and Xbox® 360 games donated by Activision. (USO Photo by PhotoFino)

Brig. Gen. Leonard A. Patrick, Commander, 502nd Air Base Wing, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, greets the crowd outside of the USO San Antonio building in downtown San Antonio during the center's re-opening celebration on April 7, 2010. (USO Photo by Photo Fino)

USO San Antonio Center Director Shari Jenson does an interview for a local news station at the center's re-opening celebration on April 7, 2010. (USO Photo by PhotoFino)

USO San Antonio's new center is a 5,100 square foot facility that features a computer area with free Internet access; theater room; lounge area with televisions, recliners, Xbox® 360 stations, and two pool tables; a children’s room; United Through Reading® Military Program recording area; and a fully stocked snack bar with ice cream stations. Center visitors also have access to four gaming rooms with multiple Nintendo® Wii™ and more Xbox® 360 gaming consoles. (USO Photo by PhotoFino)

News & Notes from Around the World

USO Centers from Italy to Oahu have been busy!  Check out our news and notes from allover…

As you know, USO Hawaii was recently honored at the State Capitol of Honolulu with a State Senate Proclamation.  Over 100 individuals were in attendance, including a majority from both Senate and Lower House, USO Hawaii corporate and community supporters, volunteers and USO Hawaii Advisory Council members.

USO Hawaii will also be hosting its inaugural USO Gala Tribute on April 16th!  Honolulu’s historic Washington Place, the former residence of a dozen of Hawai’i governors and the last Hawaiian monarch, Queen Lili’uokalani, will be hosting.  Proceeds will be used to support program and morale services for our military and their families.  Expected to attend are command, flag officers, and enlisted military personnel from various service branches on the islands. Governor Lingle will deliver a congratulatory message at the Gala Tribute, with LTG Benjamin Mixon as Keynote Speaker.  Tickets are still available; call the center for more details!

(L-R) CMDCM Earl Gray, MSN Ryan Thompson, MA2 Jeffrey Clark, Chief Randy Basat, MA1 Michael Britton, MA1 Larry Hardison, CS1 Dusty Barnes, and Base Commander-Joint Basing, Captain Richard Kitchens at the Senate Legislative Recognition event at the Hawaii State Capitol. The event honored USO Hawaii for their outstanding contribution to the morale and programs services that benefit our U.S. Armed Forces in Hawaii.

There’s a new T-wall at Camp Virginia, Kuwait.  The staff wanted to honor and encourage the volunteers, so volunteers were asked to create and pain their own wall.  Thank you to all of our volunteers for your hard work, dedication, assistance, friendship and love – you did an awesome job with the T-wall!

These are just some of the volunteers at USO Camp Virginia who made this T-wall possible.

USO Vicenza recently celebrated their grand reopening with food, refreshments, and a cake cutting. AFN was present to cover the event (see the video below) as was the USAG Vicenza Outlook newspaper.

Manager Glenn Gibbs welcomed everyone to “their” Center.  The literal reopening of the doors, symbolized the reopening of a Center that belongs to the community.  We’re so proud of USO Vicenza’s continued commitment to serving their neighbors and our troops!

USO staff Torie Gotaas and Glenn Gibbs (center) pose in front of the cake with staff and volunteers.

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Grand Opening: USO Basra

Today, the USO opened its third center in Iraq.  At nearly 11,000 square feet, USO COB Basrah is the largest USO center in Southwest Asia, providing a touch of home to deployed troops.  This facility is one of 10 USO centers in Southwest Asia that serve nearly 1.5 million troops and their family members each year.  As American troops reposition throughout the region to meet changing operational requirements, the USO adjusts to provide spirit-lifting programs and services where they are needed most.

Be sure to watch the video before to hear how Service Members are enjoying the new facility!