NEW YORK–As a busy mom and public affairs officer in the Navy, Petty Officer 1st Class Bickiana Patton doesn’t have many opportunities to show off her feminine side. But thanks to the USO — and sponsors Sherri Hill, Ann Taylor and Ralph Lauren — Patton was able to let her hair down and enjoy an afternoon of fashion and pampering at USO Operation That’s My Dress at Fleet Week New York 2015.
“I have to admit, it was wonderful,” Patton said. “The USO helped me feel like a diva today.”
Now in it’s third year, USO Operation That’s My Dress, which normally caters to military teens attending formal events, has expanded to include events tailored towards female service members and military spouses.
“There are many, many sacrifices these women make to serve our country or to go with their husband,” said USO of Metropolitan New York Vice President of Programs Ray Kennedy. “And today is a way to make sure we know that we value them, we understand their femininity and we want to make them feel beautiful inside and outside.”
The afternoon of glitz and glam kicked off with a performance by the USO Show Troupe and a fashion show featuring professional models and the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA titleholders. After the show, attendees enjoyed hair and make-up demonstrations by professional stylists before heading upstairs to find the perfect dress. Spouses and female service members were event treated to free accessories by JTV jewelry to complete their look.
“My husband and I are transferring very soon, so just to be able to do this before we move … we just want to thank you,” said Coast Guard spouse Casey Van Huysen.
Joy Prentice-Faller and Maj. Joe Faller pose at the Douglas MacArthur Center USO. Photo courtesy Joy Prentice-Faller
Joy Prentice-Faller wasn’t looking for love when she started volunteering at the USO in 2011.
Instead, it found her.
It started one Saturday morning in 2012 at the USO of Metropolitan New York’s Douglas MacArthur Center inside the Port Authority Bus Terminal, when Prentice-Faller showed up early to teach Marine Reserve Maj. Joe Faller how to open the center.
Unbeknownst to Prentice-Faller and Pat Walsh — the USO of Metropolitan New York’s manager of programs and services who coordinated the shift — Faller had already been trained.
“We realized that it wasn’t his first time [opening the center] and that we had just kind of gotten put on the schedule together,” Prentice-Faller said. “But that started more of the first conversation [between us].”
After that shift, the duo started to see each other outside of the USO and eventually began dating.
“I think volunteering together gave us something in common, or just kinda showed us that we had similar values because we could kinda work together as a team, or work together and be on the same page,” Faller said.
No one at the center knew about their relationship until about six months later, when the couple was walking side-by-side in New York City’s Veterans Day parade.
“[Walsh] kind of figured it out when [she saw that] we were holding hands walking up Fifth Avenue with the USO float,” Prentice-Faller said.
USO of Metropolitan New York’s Pat Walsh gives a toast at Prentice-Faller wedding. Photo courtesy Joy Prentice-Faller
The two got engaged in 2013 and were married last year. They even asked Walsh to give a toast at the reception and talk about how they met.
“So when nobody was really telling that story [of how they met at the USO], I thought, I have to tell it,’” Walsh said.
“When you put people on the same shift, you don’t know that [they’re] going to get married, of course.”
The couple still volunteers at the USO’s Port Authority location.
Army Staff Sgt. Ty Michael Carter receives the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama on Monday at the White House. Photo courtesy of the Army
Army Staff Sgt. Ty Michael Carter became the eighth Afghanistan War vet to receive the Medal of Honor on Monday at the White House. While his actions set him apart, it’s also notable that he used his platform to talk about the post-traumatic stress issues he’s dealt with after returning home.
Carter – who was honored by the USO last year at the USO of Metropolitan New York’s Armed Forces Gala and Gold Medal Dinner – has spoken up in recent months about his struggle to readjust since his return home.
“Know that a soldier suffering from post-traumatic stress is one of the most passionate, dedicated men or women you’ll ever meet,” Carter said during Monday’s ceremony. “Know that they are not damaged. They are simply burdened with living what others did not.”
USO Warrior and Family Care has several programs dedicated to assist the tens of thousands of troops struggling with PTSD on their road to recovery. If you know someone who needs help, click here.