The USO does more than just entertain the troops in foreign theaters of engagement. This non-profit organization supports service members and their families from the moment a warrior signs up for service and after their discharge. People know the USO because of famous comedians, singers, and big concerts they’ve hosted. However, the behind-the-scenes work of this organization provides other forms of practical assistance to American service members.
The USO started in February 1941, 10 months before the United States entered World War II. The USO formed partnerships with six civilian agencies, including the Salvation Army, the YMCA, and the YWCA to provide on-leave entertainment options for soldiers on U.S. soil. Once America entered the war, the USO’s role expanded quickly into other areas since soldiers needed recreational services that the U.S. Military simply couldn’t focus on due to the massive war effort.
4. On the Front Lines
During times of war, the USO tries to give soldiers as many reminders of home as possible. Camp shows recruit the entertainment industry by staging concerts, comedians, and famous celebrities at overseas venues. Some of these stars even place themselves in danger to reach performance venues overseas. Many legendary entertainers helped the cause during World War II including Bob Hope, Mickey Rooney, John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, and Judy Garland. Hollywood continues its rich tradition today with famous contemporary stars.
Today, the USO expands its services to bring meaningful items from home to the frontlines. Shipments averaging a ton bring troops DVDs, laptop computers, snacks, and care packages free of charge. USO centers that are based in foreign countries allow service members talk to loved ones thanks to their Internet connections, says Honoring Our Heroes.
3. Helping With Recovery
The USO gives comfort and support to troops injured on the battlefield. When a wounded warrior arrives in Germany for treatment, the USO gives the soldier the resources he needs to write or call home to connect with loved ones. The organization also ensures soldiers make their rehabilitation and physical therapy appointments. In some cases, the USO flies family members to Germany to see their injured service-member.
2. Helping Troops Transition
The USO partners with Hire Heroes USA to find meaningful and gainful employment upon returning to civilian life. The organization eases the transition for soldiers and their families so the end of their service doesn’t lead to vocational uncertainty. As such, the USO recognizes that each soldier’s transition to civilian life is unique and that each person should receive help on a personal level.
1. Helping Them Remember
The USO’s mission supports grieving families who lose warriors in the midst of their service. The organization escorts mothers, wives and children to Dover Air Force Base to prepare for the sad duty of returning a warrior home to his final resting place. USO staffers help families navigate airports, and they assist families at the Families of the Fallen Center in Dover once they arrive.
The USO doesn’t receive a dime of taxpayer money to operate. Since they started amongst middle-class families in 1941, the organization has relied completely on charitable donations from civilians, corporate sponsors, and businesses to support the troops in as many ways as possible. This tradition of giving continues in contemporary times thanks to the help of millions of people on the home front. American troops need support beyond what the military can provide during their times of service. Families, loved ones, and services at home need to be as strong as possible for the brave soldiers fighting for our freedom.