4Troops Special Presale Offer

The group 4TROOPS performed the National Anthem at NASCAR's Food City 500 on March 21 in Bristol TN.

Mother’s Day is right around the corner and what better gift than the new CD from 4Troops?  Okay, so since it’s only available for pre-sale on Amazon right now she might not get it in time for the actual holiday…but we have a special coupon code that will save you $2 off the retail price!

4Troops is a singing group comprised of 4 US Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans, who sing uplifting songs on behalf of troops everywhere.  You may have seen them on Good Morning America and Fox & Friends…and our blog!

Starting today – Tuesday, April 27 – and running until the day before in-store sales begin on Monday, May 10, simply type in the coupon code uso4troo when you pre-order the CD and get this special discount.  We’ll also remind you that Sony Music will donate 50 cents from each sale of the 4TROOPS album in the United States to charity. The donation benefits the IAVA, Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund and – our favorite! – the USO.

We’re honored by 4Troops’ support and hope you enjoy the video below, when the group performed with Lee Greenwood at Bristol before the NASCAR race…

more about “4Troops Videos | The Official 4Troop…“, posted with vodpod

At Ft. Hood with Kasey Kahne, Some Pretty Dang Good Country Music and a Budweiser or Two

MG Will Grimsley, Kasey Kahne and Ft. Hood USO director Robin Crouse before Budweiser support event.

From the desk of John Hanson:

Visiting Ft. Hood is always a treat. A humble treat, but a treat.  It’s the Army’s largest base anywhere.  On any day 1/3 of the base is deployed overseas; 1/3 is recovering from deployment and 1/3 is getting ready to deploy.  Thousands of troops and families deal with that math every day.  Today was a crowded day – a good day.

“Whenever there’s a traffic jam, that’s good news,” a first sergeant told me.

So, what was I doing at the base that fills the space between Killeen and Waco, on a pretty nice spring evening?

Budweiser, one of the USO’s stalwart supporters, offered to help us with Operation Enduring Care and our initiative to build 2 new state-of-the-art centers at the new Walter Reed Hospital at Bethesda and the Ft. Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia.  It’s an ambitious effort, and when a national sponsor steps forward to offer us what might be $250,000, I’m going to show up.

Budweiser and its distributors around the country will be donating proceeds during the summer to help us as we begin the hard work of building the new Wounded Warrior Centers.  Part of their promotion involves their Number 9 racecar, driven by Kasey Kahne, who is, by the way, a genuine supporter of the troops.

Budweiser Number 9 car, driven by Kasey Kahne

Voila! The Car

Budweiser regional representative Henry Dominguez announced the promotion in front of thousands of soldiers and family members gathered in one of the base’s field houses to meet Kahne and to hear country music performer Kevin Fowler (yes THAT Kevin Fowler, whose Beer, Bait and Ammo is one of the best Texas songs I’ve heard in a while).

We’re pretty sure they were there for Kahne and/or Fowler, because when Henry introduced me the plaintive wail, “We want Kasey!” was heard across the room.  Well, I (wisely, I think) cut to the chase, explained why the support from Budweiser was important and got the heck off the stage.

Then, Henry, Kasey and I unveiled the bright, Budweiser red Number 9 car, with the legend “Proud to Serve Those Who Serve” across the hood. Pretty cool.  On Memorial Day and July 4 (the bookends of the USO’s Patriotic 6” the car will feature the USO logo inside, next to Kasey for the world to see when the in-car camera comes on.  Watch for it.

Ft. Hood Matters

Ft. Hood is important to its soldier and family citizens.  Families are raised here, after all.  Military children are educated here.  It’s a really large community with an important focus.

Major Gen. Will Grimsley, the deputy commander of Ft. Hood and III Corps sees what the USO does.  In a presentation to the USO he told his troops that the USO is there where they are, “From Kandahar to Balad, the USO will take care of you.”

That was flattering and rewarding, but we have a special presence at this mammoth installation, and we suffer when they suffer.

The USO was the one NGO that was authorized to operate after the tragic shootings here in November.  Later, the USO helped with the healing when we worked with the base’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation office to produce its Community Strong Day.  Gary Sinise, Chamillionire and others came here to celebrate resilience and sacrifice.

Robin Crouse, the USO’s outstanding center director at Ft. Hood is one of the “go-to” folks the military command depends on.

In the Green Room, where Kahne signed autographs and posed for photos, I talked to some Dominos Pizza representatives.  They told me that 6 years ago Robin asked them to provide some pizzas for troops who had just returned.   “That was 14,000 pizzas ago,” one of them told me.  Great story, I thought, and good call.  Nothing like a little good will to build consumer affinity.  I thanked them for their generosity, and the rep told me, “No thanks needed.  We do it because it matters.  Ft. Hood matters.”

It does.  It matters to the dog handler and his beautiful pooches who’d already done one tour to Iraq and were getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan this summer.  “I’ll be fine,” the handler said.  “She takes care of me.”  God speed.

It matters to the sergeant who’d just recently returned from Afghanistan.  He stood with his wife and Kahne for a photo.  The wife was beaming, but he had that look we see so often from these folks.  Simple act of kindness on Kasey’s part, but sacrifice was written all over the faces of this military couple who looked years older than .

I love this job, because whenever I get a bit cynical or wrapped up in my own nonsense, I meet people who make my life worthwhile.

Ft. Hood matters.  THEY matter.  They’re why we do what we do.

Troops Use Sports to Keep Moral High

One of the popular requests for the USO2Go program is the athletic kit, which features recreational activity equipment including a putting green and portable putting set, volley ball and badminton set, horseshoes, frisbees, footballs, flag football belts, nerf balls, soccer balls and a magnetic dart board.  Individual USO Centers often augment those offerings with sports equipment of their own.  And sometimes they get really creative!

Camp Buehring, for example, recently had NASCAR-themed event inspired by the recent race at Bristol Motor Speedway.  Right before the race began, troops signed up on the “Caution Lap Pool” to guess when the first five cautions would occur. Winners won prizes if they guessed correctly.

They also held their own race, right inside the USO! Troops competed against each other by racing remote-controlled cars throughout the cafe on a 550 cord race track.  How cool is that? As one duty manager said, “Troops and staff had a blast at this event!”

USO Race

It's not as easy as it looks! Just because they're lacking a full-size track doesn't mean Troops have any less of a good time racing remote-controlled cars through the cafe at USO Camp Buehring.

Over at the USO at Ali Al Salem, it was the Great American Pastime that brought together Troops.  Staff and volunteers there hosted a day of festivities last week to say goodbye to the old command cell and welcome the new command cell.  The events kicked off with a good old game of softball, with the old command cell winning the game 22 to 17.  “Take me out to the ballgame” now has a whole new meaning!

Baseball USO

A serviceman knocks it out of the proverbial park, as the old and new command hit the diamond at USO Ali Al Salem. (USO Photo by Duane DeVorak)

USO Basebal

Teammates cheer a running back to home base, as the old command cell defeated the new in a game of softball. (USO Photo by Duane DeVorak)

Finally, it’s not our story, but we think it’s a good one anyway.  A group of Canadian and American hockey players from the NHL recently travelled to Afghanistan for a game of street hockey.  And they brought along the Stanley Cup!

This friendly rivals have been playing a series of exhibition games organized by the Canadian government.  Players past and present played alongside Troops in Kandahar, among other locations.  This is the fourth time the Stanley Cup has visited the Persian Gulf.  Keep updated with posts on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ website and take a moment to listen to a report from NPR.

With Team Canada's Lt. Cmdr. Lorne Hartwell (Royal Canadian Navy) close on his heels, Sgt. Francisco N. Aponte of the Kandahar Hawks (a maintenance noncommissioned officer with the 143d Expeditionary Sustainment Command) chases after the ball in a ball-hockey game against Team Canada March 4. Team Canada, comprised mostly of former National Hockey League players, visited Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan, on a morale trip for troops. (Army photo by PFC Elisebet Freeburg)