Free Better Than Ezra Concert on Military Appreciation Day

Better Than Ezra (Photo courtesy of Facebook)

Officials from the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship and the USO of Metropolitan Washington recently announced that New Orleans rock band Better Than Ezra will help the tournament honor area military with a special musical appearance on Saturday, October 9, during Military Appreciation Day at the Champions Tour’s final major of the season.

The Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship is scheduled for Oct 5-10, 2010, at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm in Potomac, MD.  As previously announced, complimentary admission to the championship is being offered to all fans for the entire week and includes the Better Than Ezra performance at the Birdies for the Brave Military Appreciation Concert presented by the USO of Metropolitan Washington.

Better Than Ezra, best known for their chart-topping hits “Good” and “Desperately Wanting,” will perform at a ceremony during Military Appreciation Day to salute military families.  The program, scheduled to begin at approximately 3 p.m. after play concludes, will take place on the stage adjacent to the 18th fairway and will include a color guard, national anthem singer, and military leadership.  Better Than Ezra will close the program with a special musical performance dedicated to the military and their families.

“We are delighted to, in conjunction with the PGA TOUR, have Better Than Ezra perform for both military families and golf fans at this year’s Championship,” said Elaine Rogers, President of the USO of Metropolitan Washington.  “We look forward to hosting them at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm on October 9.”

For the third straight year, the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship will offer hospitality to active, reserve and retired military and their dependents at the Birdies for the Brave Patriots’ Outpost made possible through the generous efforts Booz Allen Hamilton, located overlooking the 18th fairway.  The Birdies for the Brave Patriots’ Outpost provides complimentary food provided by Chick-fil-A, beverages and interactive activities.

For more information, please visit USO of Metropolitan Washington!

New Honor Guard Lounge Opens at the Fort Myer Community Center

President of USO of Metropolitan D.C., Elaine Rogers (center), stands with the president and CEO of Harkins Builders, Richard M. Lombardo (left) and Army Major General Karl Horst, commanding general of Joint Force Headquarters—National Capitol Region and The U.S Military District of Washington to cut the ribbon in front of the lounge, September 8, 2010. (USO photo by Joe Lee)

By Joe Lee, ON★PATROL Staff Writer

USO Metropolitan Washington celebrated the opening of the new Honor Guard Lounge inside the Fort Myer Community Center yesterday with a well-attended ribbon cutting ceremony.

Event speakers included Army Major General Karl Horst, commanding general of Joint Force Headquarters—National Capitol Region and The U.S Military District of Washington; Army Colonel Carl Coffman, joint base commander; and Elaine Rogers, president of USO of Metropolitan D.C..

The lounge is specifically dedicated to the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who serve on the honor guard—charged with burying our fallen warriors at Arlington National Cemetary.

There isn’t a more deserving unit, Coffman said,  as he recalled waking up every morning to a caisson rolling past his home during his first few days as base commander.

“It was a sobering reminder for me,” said Coffman. “Burying our heroes is the most important thing the honor guard does, and they truly are the standard to which we are all held.”

A group of Air Force and Army honor guard members relax in the movie lounge. (USO photo by Joe Lee)

The state-of-the-art lounge boasts a gaming center, a 52-inch plasma TV, five computer workstations, a movie theatre and even a real theatre-style popcorn popper.

“The honor guard delivers first class service to our fallen heroes, and they deserve a first class facility to serve them—I hope this lounge meets and exceeds those expectations,” said Rogers.

Special thanks were given to major contributors Harkins Builders and Quest Software who helped make this $250,000 lounge a reality.

“It’s no surprise that the lounge far exceeds our expectations,” said Coffman. “We never had any doubt.”

Airman First Class Dane Daproza plays Wii in the new honor guard lounge. (USO photo by Joe Lee)

President and CEO of Harkins Builders, Richard M. Lombardo (right) receives the commander’s coin from Army Major General Karl Horst, commanding general of Joint Force Headquarters—National Capitol Region and The U.S Military District of Washington. Miss Virginia, Caitlin Uze, stands between them for the photograph. (USO photo by Joe Lee)

The Importance of Partnerships

By Nick Wakeman, originally published in Washington Technology

Sandee Cartwright, wife of Gen. James Cartwright Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, joins Elaine Rogers, Executive Director of USO of Metropolitan Washington, during a Pentagon care package event on July 2, 2010. (USO Photo by Mike Theiler)

Elaine Rogers has been president of the USO of Metropolitan Washington for 34 years, and during that time, she’s dealt with legendary stars and chief executives of huge corporations. She’s also helped countless soldiers and their families.

All the while, she’s led an organization that continually adapts to new demands while staying focused on an unchanging mission: supporting the members of the military and their families. She spoke recently with Editor-in-Chief Nick Wakeman about how the USO has changed and the role corporate sponsors play.

WT: What has kept you in this job for so long?
Rogers: I love working with the military, and I love working with the volunteers. You get to see the good in people who want to give back and support our military.

The USO is never the same thing every day. The challenge of bringing so many people together to make something happen is the most exciting part of the job.

WT: Describe the role corporate sponsors play. How has the nature of giving changed?
Rogers: Without them, the USO wouldn’t exist. We work off the generosity of the corporations who want to give back to us because, in many cases, they are supporting their customers.

It used to be they would write a check. But today, when we are in discussions about giving to the USO, we are also in discussions about how they can help us beyond that.

These folks really want to give back — and not just dollars. Most of the corporations who donate to our USO also are getting their employees involved. They want their employees at the airports, handing out care packages, or at the hospitals.

Click here to read the rest of the interview!

USO-Metro Opens New Center at Dahlgren!

Preparing to officially open the new Dahlgren USO Center at Naval Support Facility Dahlgren are (l. to r.) Mariellen Curtis, the center's manager; John Marselle, board chairman for USO of Metropolitan Washington; Caitlin Uze, Miss Virginia 2010; Capt. Catie Hanft, commanding officer for Naval Support Activity South Potomac; and Elaine Rogers, president of USO-Metro. (Photo by Gary Wagner)

USO of Metropolitan Washington recently opened a new center at Dahlgren Navy Base in Virginia and one of the highlights is the inclusion of a Sesame Street Room!

The Sesame Rooms project is an exciting extension of Sesame Workshop’s ongoing Talk, Listen, Connect program for military families and the one at Dahlgren will be completed within the next few months.  “The challenges our military and their families face today have never been greater,” Elaine Rogers, president of USO of Metropolitan Washington, explained during the opening ceremony.  “With this center, we hope to make a positive change in that process. We will do it through laughter, through activities and amenities and in ways the USO is known for bringing joy into people’s lives.”

One guest in particular stood out from the crowd of over 100 in attendance: Miss Virginia 2010, Caitlin Uze.  ‘‘All of America understands that because of what you do, we enjoy the freedom we have today,” said Uze in expressing her appreciation for the U.S. armed services.  ‘‘I take every opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to our military personnel and their families for the sacrifices they make for all of us.”

Other amenities at the Dahlgren USO Center include a TV area with movie library, free wi-fi throughout the building, computer stations with Internet, a gaming area with Xbox 360, and much more!  If you know of Troops and families traveling through this area, we invite you to let them know about this great new facility.

We’ll keep you posted on the progress of the Sesame Street Room.  In the meantime, click here to see what a difference the Sesame Room at McGuire AFB made for military families…and let us know what you think!

“Me and a Friend”: It’s a Homerun for Military Kids

Kelsie Vick, second from left, poses with her friends Josh Braden, Mimi Nsanzimana, and Kyle Thornhill before the start of the Nationals-Mets baseball game at Nationals Stadium in Washington, D.C., July 4, 2010. Kelsie has relocated 10 times with her Army family. (USO photo)

Last Saturday we gave you an exclusive preview of the new program for military kids called “Me and a Friend.”  A collaboration between the Washington Nationals and USO of Metropolitan DC resulted in this unique program, which provided nearly 4,000 free tickets for Sunday’s home game at Nationals Park.  The program was created in consultation with the Department of Defense as a way to say thanks for the sacrifices made by military kids, and will continue throughout the remainder of the baseball season.

Teens, especially, find that heading out to a baseball game with friends can make a big difference in normalizing their experience as a member of a military family.  “A lot of times, teens just can’t find anything to do,” as Josh Braden explained to Lisa Daniel of American Forces Press Service.  “The focus is just on clubs and stuff. So this is a good thing to do to keep kids out of trouble.”  Braden attended the game with his friend Kelsie Vick, a recent graduate of Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, Va., who has relocated 10 times with her Army family.

Didn’t make it out to Sunday’s game?  No problem!  There’s still plenty of time to participate in “Me and a Friend” this summer.  To check ticket availability for the July 11 game against the Giants please use USO-Metro’s TicketLine program.  All tickets must be picked up at the USO office at 228 McNair Road, Bldg 405 Fort Myer, Va., 22211.  And check out more pics below!

Military Kids run the bases as the Rushmore Four cheer them on at the July 4, 2010 Washington Nationals home game against the New York Mets. (USO photo)

Two recipients of the "Me and a Friend" tickets took time out of watching the game to write a Major League thank you note to Washington Nationals players on July 4, 2010. (USO photo)

The Nationals Park billboard gave a special shout out to USO of Metropolitan Washington and all of the military kids, their friends, and their families in attendance at the game. (USO photo)

Pro vs. GI Joe Brings Giants and Redskins to Troops in Iraq!

Soldiers play “Guitar Hero” against players at the ESPN Zone in Washington D.C., as part of the “Pro vs. GI Joe” video game competition, June 8, 2010, which pitted troops against Washington Redskins football players. (DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class William Selby)

The ESPN Zone locations in New York City’s Times Square and downtown Washington, DC, were packed with wounded warriors, NFL players, USO staff and volunteers, and gaming enthusiasts of all stripes when Pro vs. GI Joe took the stage for heated competition – all in the name of supporting the Troops.

“Troops spend a lot of their downtime playing video games overseas,” co-founder Addie Zinone told AFPS. “When I told Greg about that, he thought of a way we could kind of give back to the troops [through] playing video games.”

This week’s activities kicked off on Monday, when soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 85th Infantry, Warrior in Transition Unit at Fort Drum met New York Giants players for a matchup on XBox 360.  Adding to the excitement was the opportunity to play Guitar Hero against Troops stationed in Basra, Iraq.  Miss USA 2010 Rima Fakih stopped by and Tuesday morning the group appeared on CBS’s “The Early Show” to meet Dave Price, the show’s weatherman.

Troops stationed at Basra came to the USO Center there to play wounded warriors and Redskins players halfway around the world. (USO Photo by Richard McCarty)

Later that day, Pro vs. GI Joe packed up and headed to DC, where a group of wounded warriors was set to match up against local USO teams and players from the Washington Redskins, with the winners taking on USO Baghdad.  Jeremy Jarmon – a second-year defensive end for the Washington Redskins – “grew up in a military household where his mother, father, and stepfather had all served in the Army. Jarmon said he loves giving back to servicemembers any way he can.  ‘It means a lot to me to be able to come out here and be able to interact with some of our troops,’ Jarmon told AFPS. ‘Coming from a military family, I know it takes a special type of person to be able to serve over there.'”

In the end, it didn’t really matter who won the matchup, because all those involved had such a great time participating.  We’d like to thank USO Fort Drum, USO of Metropolitan Washington (who’ve posted video on their YouTube Channel), USO Basra, USO Baghdad, the Wounded Warrior Project, Pro vs. GI Joe and all of the active-duty and retired military who took part in these two amazing events.  Way to go – you’re all rockstars in our book!

Miss USA Rima Fakih takes on the drums as soldiers from the Fort Drum Warriors in Transition Unit tackle guitar and vocals at the Pro vs. GI Joe event with the Giants in New York City, June 7, 2010.