Birthday Buddies: USO and Facebook Keep Troops Connected Downrange

Troops use Facebook at a USO center in 2012. USO photo

Troops use Facebook at a USO center in 2012. USO photo

Today is the USO’s 73rd birthday. As we passed the cake around at our centers, we realized there’s another birthday relevant to the military community taking place.

Facebook turns 10 years old today. And while you may not see the connection right away, our troops surely get it each time they walk into a center downrange.

Jose, a veteran from San Diego was quoted in a New York Times story today saying Facebook and the USO provided him a connection to his family he couldn’t have made any other way while stationed across the globe:

I have spent the last 13 years serving my country but the separation from family is an aspect that I have never mastered. Facebook allows me to see my children grow up even when I have to be away for my duties. It keeps me from being totally cut off from my family even if I am thousands of miles away with no cellular service. It is a crucial tool for military members and keeps us connected like no other service other than the USO [United Service Organizations] has. Walk into a USO overseas and Facebook dominates the screens. It’s for good reason.

It’s moments like these that count for troops and their families. Happy birthday, Facebook.

USO Brings Super Bowl Festivities – and a National TV Cameo – to Troops Around the World

Troops attended USOs around the world last night to watch the big game. And even though this year’s Super Bowl was a blowout, they still had a great time. Take a look:

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USO Tour Veterans Peyton Manning, Champ Bailey and John Fox to Play Big Roles in Sunday’s Super Bowl

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The center of attention at this year’s Super Bowl was the center of attention for deployed troops just one year ago. Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning – who set NFL records for passing yards (5,477) and touchdowns (55) this season – will take on the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night. Manning went on a USO Tour hosted by Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. James Winnefeld Jr., last February.

Manning kept a journal of his experience for ESPN, which featured this passage:

[I] experienced a true first in my life. I have thrown footballs in lots and lots of places. Boats, prisons, schools, military bases, hospitals, golf course fairways, malls, birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, Mardi Gras floats, French Quarter, etc., but I ain’t never thrown a football in an airplane. And I am not talking about little 3-yard lob passes. I was throwing 35-yard bullets to a guy who had the best hands on the entire USO tour, Senior Airman Stephen Gasperic. He was catching passes while trying to avoid falling over luggage, probably a couple of missiles back there as well for all I knew. He fell over a couple of times on some high throws, but he never dropped one. …

Manning will have a few USO tour veterans on the sidelines with him Sunday night, too.

Broncos starting cornerback Champ Bailey went on a USO tour last spring along with former Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller. Miller tore his anterior cruciate ligament in December and won’t be able to play in Sunday’s game.

And the Broncos coach is a USO tour vet, too. John Fox went on a USO tour in 2010, back when he was the head coach of the Carolina Panthers.

Race Toward Your 2014 New Year’s Resolution with TEAM USO

Did you set a lofty New Year’s Resolution to lose some extra poundage? Are you willing to raise money to support the troops and their families in exchange for a little help meeting your goal?

TeamUSOIf so, TEAM USO is ready to grant you entry into and help you train for some of the most challenging and sought-after marathons, triathlons and obstacle course races in America.

A new addition this year is the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. Set against the natural beauty of San Francisco, this triathlon is a virtual postcard of the City by the Bay and is consistently ranked as a favorite event among triathletes. It features a 1.5-mile swim from Alcatraz Island to the shores of the St. Francis Yacht Club combined with a grueling 18-mile bike ride and an 8-mile run through the trails of the breathtaking Golden Gate Recreational Area.

TEAM USO also has entries for 20 Rugged Maniac obstacle course races near major metropolitan areas around the country. Combined with favorites like the Marine Corps Marathon and the New York City Marathon, the whole family is sure to find a race to enjoy.

“Of course, all of our Team USO events are fun, but the Rugged Maniac events are a great way to get a big group of people outside for some exercise while raising money for troops and their families,” said Team USO Program Manager Kymberly Jordan. “A group of friends can really make a day out of it.”

Whether you want to run, walk or just get dirty, now it is easier than ever to find a way to support our troops. Register now and join fellow TEAM USO members in raising money to make the lives of America’s brave servicemen and women and their families a little bit easier by providing programs and services through USO centers worldwide.