(StatePoint) The ever-evolving mission of the U.S. military means service members are often on the move. As demonstrated by recent events in Afghanistan, Haiti and in the wake of Hurricane Ida, dedicated service members put their lives on the line whenever and wherever they are deployed at home or abroad.
Being activated for relief efforts in a time of desperate need or being stationed in remote locations far away from home can be difficult. Troops sometimes find themselves needing support services provided by the United Service Organizations (USO). To boost morale for American service members all around the globe, the USO is meeting them where they are.
“The heart of our mission is to ensure service members stay strong through connecting them to the things they love and fight for,” says Christopher Plamp, senior vice president of operations, programs, and entertainment at the USO. “When the pandemic prevented us from serving in person as we have done for over our 80-year history, we innovated new ways to virtually foster the spirit of connectedness. As we look forward to a post-pandemic future, we are proud to continue strengthening the military – no matter the time or place.”
Here are a few ways the USO brings vital morale and essential services directly to the nation’s military in far-reaching corners of the world:
• For military units stationed in distant locations where there is no USO presence, USO2GO packages bridge the gap. USO2GO kits ensure service members have some of the small comforts of home, such as electronic gaming, sports equipment, board games, movies and personal care items. In 2020, USO2GO was heavily utilized to support quarantine sites for service members at military installations around the world.
• Service members can be called at a moment’s notice to leave their families and homes to respond to emergency situations – all amidst a global pandemic. As troops work to save lives in moments of crisis, Mobile USO vehicles provide vital resources, support and comfort. These units also help serve the National Guard in times of natural disasters such as hurricanes, wildfires, tornados and more. Equipped with food preparation areas, Wi-Fi, TVs, relaxation areas, gaming stations and outdoor activities, these USO centers on wheels are a welcoming haven for military members in hard-to-reach areas.
• Virtual and in-person entertainment reconnects service members to experiences and memories of home. Since April 2020, USO Military Virtual Programming (MVP) entertainment programs have hosted 135 sessions with more than 170 entertainers. MVP events reached 49 countries, including 22 ships at sea and 52 U.S. states and territories. Attendees engaged with celebrities via live Q&A sessions, performances, one-on-one calls and more than 140 live “look-ins” at military locations.
• The USO Care Package Program provides service members with two different types of care packages: Snack Packs and Toiletry Packs. These care packages give busy troops a needed boost. In November 2020, the 3 millionth care package since 9/11 was delivered to a service member stationed in East Africa.
Want to express your gratitude to military members in a substantial way? Consider helping the USO give more than thanks by visiting USO.org/MoreThanThanks and joining the conversation using #MoreThanThanks on social media.
Photo Credit: USO Photos