The master sergeant really wanted chairs.
The video games, TVs and snacks were great, too. Still, years of deployments, bad weather and overall wear and tear had left the furniture at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar in bad shape.
New folding chairs were actually a pretty big deal.
“I use one of your chairs almost every day to relax outside and enjoy my cigar and destress from the daily workload,” Air Force Master Sgt. Richard Rude wrote in a May 2 email to the USO.
The folding chairs – along with bigger-ticket items like video game consoles and televisions – were part of a USO2GO shipment Rude requested earlier this year.
“When I got to my deployed location [in January], I wanted to see what I can to take care of my troops,” Rude wrote in a May 5 email. “I went to the USO website and started doing some research about what [the USO] had to offer [and] I stumbled upon the USO2GO program.”
USO2GO delivers some of the USO’s most popular services to troops in remote and restricted areas around the globe. Service members in remote areas can go to the USO’s website to see their options: anything from snacks, coffee and toiletries to board games, video game consoles and sporting goods.
Rude was immediately drawn to the electronics and furniture offerings. He said the younger airmen in Qatar have personal electronics with them at all times, even though they don’t always have reliable Internet. However, many of the base’s communal video game consoles had been damaged by ubiquitous sand, intense heat and constant use.
“The main attraction to deployers is electronics,” Rude wrote. “I knew that my squadron could use consoles, especially since they double as [DVD players].”
Once he’d narrowed down his wish list using the USO2GO online menu, Rude emailed USO2GO program manager Cristin Perry to coordinate the shipment. Rude submitted the final paperwork in mid-March. Two weeks later, the shipment was filled and on April 22, Rude’s unit started receiving packages.
“It is definitely difficult to explain how amazing it feels when several boxes of equipment come in from the USO,” Rude wrote. “I guess I can explain it best to ask someone ‘How did you feel when you seen all the presents under the Christmas tree as a child?’
“I thought the packages [the USO] had setup were perfect in efforts to help bring my guys together and get to know one another. It is also a positive distractor, especially being away from loved ones.”