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For nearly 80 years, the United Service Organizations – commonly called the USO – has supported U.S. military members and their families through hospitality, entertainment, and service.
Entertainment featuring a variety of performers has long been the most well-known hallmark of the USO. The legendary Bob Hope personified USO shows for decades, joining 57 different tours starting in World War II and continuing through the first Gulf War. Other iconic USO regulars included the Andrews Sisters, John Wayne, and Marilyn Monroe; actor and veteran advocate Gary Sinise has become a fixture in recent years.
The USO’s less-visible missions are equally valuable. They operate centers in airports and on military bases, sponsor a reading program that connects soldiers with their children, fund phone calls to families at home, and provide care packages. These care packages include basic toiletries and essentials. This year, 60,000 packages were given to soldiers in quarantine or isolation with coronavirus.
This month, the USO reached a remarkable milestone: they delivered their 3 millionth care package since September 11, 2001.
The 3 millionth care package contained a golden ticket entitling the recipient to another bag, which was filled with USO merchandise, Apple Air Pods, and a Lowe’s gift card. U.S. Army Corporal Kayla Lystad – a 24-year-old Minnesota National Guard member deployed in the Horn of Africa – was the lucky winner.
The USO’s mission statement reads, “The USO strengthens America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to the nation.”
The USO is privately funded through donations. For more information, on how you can help during this holiday season, please visit www.uso.org