Thursday, May 17, 2007

Oasis in the Desert

On my way back from Iraq in September 2004 I had to stop to await transportation in Kuwait. We were tired and relieved to be going home from a year long tour in Iraq from assignments throughout the country. However, the dusty hot post in Kuwait was yet another delay in boarding the Freedom bird for the States for our Reserve unit members. While in the Kuwait camp I discovered the paradise that was the USO tent…. Imagine a tent with big screen TVs, recliners, books, magazines and cold air conditioning…. Take off your boots and settle in to a living room setting…I will attest it was a slice of heaven in the middle of that camp.

The USO is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide morale, welfare and recreation-type services to our men and women in uniform. The original intent of Congress — and enduring style of USO delivery — is to represent the American people by extending a touch of home to the military. The USO currently operates more than 130 centers worldwide, including ten mobile canteens located in the continental United States and overseas. Overseas centers are located in Germany, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Qatar, Korea, Afghanistan, Guam, and Kuwait. Service members and their families visit USO centers more than 4.7 million times each year. They also provide some sundries to soldiers going to theater and in airports around the globe. USO volunteers organize the reception and departure at gateway airports for soldiers on R&R and overseas travel as well. This is an organization I see making a difference and really providing for soldiers and their families.

When I got back I looked at their site to discover that the USO is a congressionally chartered, nonprofit organization, and is not a part of the federal government. I know a good organization when I se it... and this is one to note. When people ask me what they can send to soldiers or do for soldiers I always suggest a contribution to the USO ; that organization that impressed me on that hot day on my way out of country. If you are so inclined dear readers – consider a donation, become a partner or volunteer for this organization.

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