Yep, you’re still in the right place. Welcome to the new-look USO blog.
The new look comes amid several milestones: our 1,000th post, which came last month, and our 1 millionth visitor, which should happen sometime in the next three weeks.
And speaking of new looks, the USO has recently expanded its video storytelling operation. Check out these two stories from the last few weeks, both originally published on USO.org.
First, Gold Star Father Don Blanchard talks about his cross-country ride to honor his son who was killed in Afghanistan:
And here’s a look at last week’s USO 9/11 Service Project on Capitol Hill:
Michelle Turner has an eye for details.
The fourth-generation Washington-area native has spent the last 13-plus years of her career with the USO and currently holds the title of senior manager, accounting. But before she was responsible for tracking the USO’s expenditures, she had to learn how to work with nuances of a different kind.
“In order to get my first job running a printing press, I had to reproduce the John Falter print ‘Ice Skating in Central Park’ with exact precision,” said Turner, a lithographer by trade before earning an accounting degree from Strayer University. “This undertaking included everything from shooting the negative, to printing the four-color copy on a printing press. It was the most nerve wracking, challenging and rewarding thing I had ever done, but [it] also prepared me for parenthood and my subsequent career change.”
Turner – who is married with two daughters – broke into the accounting field in 1989 and joined the USO’s accounting team as a contractor a decade later. Her father and two uncles were Vietnam veterans, so she saw the organization’s cause as a natural fit.
And while she’s seen a multitude of positive changes during her tenure at the USO, the one thing she feels has stayed the same is the camaraderie.
“Having worked here for so long I can truly say that I have never worked with such a great group of people,” she said. “As an organization, we celebrate our triumphs and mourn our losses together the same as any close-knit family would, and that’s an attribute I’ve not experienced anywhere else.”
–Story by USO Story Development
Sparks were flying – from welder’s torches, at least – earlier this month when we visited the future site of the USO Warrior and Family Center in Bethesda, Md.
The 16,217-square-foot building on the campus of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is on track for a Spring 2014 opening.
-Photos by Eric Brandner, USO Director of Story Development
Carolyn Harris, regional vice president, USO – Pacific, speaks to Marines with Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, on Friday at the USO day room. Photo courtesy of Marine Sgt. Sarah Fiocco
If America’s troops are going to the ends of the Earth, we are, too.
A Marine stocks the USO day room fridge on Wednesday. Photo by Marine Sgt. Sarah Fiocco
A USO contingent is in Darwin, Australia, this week to meet with troops from Marine Rotational Force – Darwin about how the organization can improve the organization’s setup there. The USO recently established a day room with gaming systems, TVs, Internet access and free snacks just steps away from the Marines’ barracks.
“We really like having the Internet. Everyone uses it,” Lance Cpl. Derrick Wastart told DVIDS. “We’re really thankful for it, especially because it’s one of our only means of communication to our families. We really appreciate it.”
Darwin, on the northern coast of Australia, is seen as a strategic U.S. training location in the Pacific.
The 2013 USO Volunteer Satisfaction Survey numbers have been tallied and the results are in. The top three centers with the highest percentage of volunteers taking the survey, and the center with the most responses overall in each region, are receiving USO Volunteer T-shirts for all their volunteers.
More than 6,600 volunteers responded to the 2013 survey, 95 percent of which expressed satisfaction with their overall USO volunteer experience.
USO Volunteer Services would like to thank all the center staff for encouraging their volunteers to complete the survey and all the volunteers who took the time to share their thoughts. The winners are:
CONUS Direct Report
- Travis Air Force Base (USO Bay Area)
- San Antonio Downtown
- Dover Air Force Base (USO Delaware)
- Denver International Airport (Rocky Mountain USO)
- USO Tampa Bay
- Joint Base Lewis-McChord (USO Northwest)
- Milwaukee (USO of Wisconsin)
- St. Louis Airport (USO of Missouri)
- Camp Kim
- Camp Walker
- Camp Humphreys
- Hawaii-Honolulu International Airport
- Wiesbaden Hainerberg Cottage
- Frankfurt International Airport
- USO Stuttgart
- LRMC – Warrior Center
- Camp Leatherneck
- Camp Marmal
- FOB Fenty
- Camp Buehring
–Story by USO Operations
Troops and USO staffers prepare to cut the ribbon to officially open the new USO Osan on Osan Air Base, South Korea. USO photo
A banner year for center openings and refurbishments continued Wednesday with the opening of USO Osan, a new location inside the Osan Air Base Community Center in South Korea.
USO President Sloan Gibson and Air Force Lt. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas were among the officials who attended the ribbon cutting to open the new center.
From left, USO President Sloan Gibson, USO Pacific Regional Vice President Carly Harris and Air Force Lt. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas speak at the event. USO photo
“The USO has been an important member of the military family in Korea for more than 60 years,” Gibson said. “On the eve of America’s birthday, the USO is proud to recognize the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women and military families serving here, their constant vigilance protecting the freedoms for those of us at home.”
The center features many hallmark USO touches, including multiple, free ways to connect to loved ones back in the United States like Internet-ready computers and phones. The center will also offer core USO programming such as United Through Reading’s Military Program. USO Osan and nearby USO Camp Humphreys also plan to co-host large events like barbecues.
Visit the USO Osan Facebook page to keep up with events at the center.
–USO Story Development