I have to admit that the first thought that comes to my mind when I think of the USO is scenes of USO-sponsored dances in World War II films. So I found the email from the USO asking for a donation particularly moving as it included the text of a letter from a wife whose husband was deployed to Iraq:
Every wife dreads the day we have to put our husbands "back on the plane." Yesterday I thought I would be all alone in this huge airport ... that I would be left standing with my six-year old son, crying and watching my husband, yet again, walk away from me.
I was wrong. Your USO volunteers were wonderful.
They took the time to talk to my husband and tell him that they were proud of him ... that they wished him well ... and to come home soon. They also took the time to play with my son, and one lady gave him a stuffed bear which he slept with last night.
And when it came time for my husband to walk away from me, I suddenly found myself surrounded by volunteers. They didn't have to stand there with me and help me through my toughest moment ... but they did. I cannot thank you enough for all that you have done, and all that you do. PLEASE keep up the wonderful work.
After reading this wife's letter, I went to the website at www.uso.org and read this introduction:
The USO is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to support the troops by providing 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 10 mobile canteens located in the continental United States and overseas. Overseas centers are located in Germany, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Qatar, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, Guam, and Kuwait. Service members and their families visit USO centers more than 5.3 million times each year. The USO is the way the American public supports the troops.
There are many ways to support the troops. Those of you who regularly read this blog know that I particularly support www.emailourmilitary.com. Yet it's also important to know about other organizations that support the troops.
In this coming holiday season, support our troops through whichever organizations you choose. Just support them!
UPDATE: Just after I posted the above, I opened today's issue of Daily Variety and saw a full-page USO ad that read:
The morale you raise the most may just be your own. Experience the greatest audience in the world on a USO Celebrity Tour. Call Bernie Rone at 703-908-6480.
I'd forgotten that this is something else the USO does. And if you're a celebrity performer -- here's another way to support the troops.
And, oh yes, the tagline for the USO ad is: Until Every One Comes Home