The United Service Operations (USO) grew out of a need for service member support in 1941. During WWII the anguish of American military members missing their home was taking its toll on their morale. So the USO was created by Americans to bring a little bit of comfort to wherever the US Military resides and bring home to them. Although it has evolved in the last 80 years to now reach both active duty and their families, the USO strives to be a place and concept where a Soldier, Airman, Sailor, Marine or Guardian can be taken care of with a little food, wifi, games, support and a smile.
So what does the USO do now?
The USO does so many things it is impossible to describe it all, but here’s a run down. The USO offers free airport lounges for US active duty military members and dependents to get free snacks, wifi, game opportunities and a place to rest while traveling. They also provide world-wide entertainment to troops and families overseas, such as major concerts with A list singers and bands. Additionally, they service stateside locations with USO centers near some large basic training bases and other military bases with huge forces that need support. They also have large buses that travel providing fun and food as well as military spouse connect programs, care package delivery programs, the Reading Program (in which US troops can read stories to their children from around the world) and so many more things!
To get a full list of the ever growing ways the USO takes care of their US Military, check out their website: https://www.uso.org/programs. Essentially if the US has a military presence somewhere, even in the most remote corners of the world, one could bet that the USO has made an appearance in some shape or form.
Where is the USO located?
There are over 250 + USO locations around the world including airport lounges, recruiting stations, overseas deployed locations and even some stateside bases. Search for locations at uso.org/locations.
How does this affect those stationed in North Dakota?
According to Josh Sova, the director of regional operations in the Midwest region (which includes North Dakota), the USO supported 35 different programs in North Dakota last year. While support to the state also includes Grand Forks Air Force Base and various Army and Air National Guard units, it goes to show that this less populous state still gets national level support from this very active organization.
Even with their stronghold of 30,000 volunteers worldwide, but the USO still strives to uphold their belief and be present where the military is. They plan on sending one of their fully-loaded “Mobile USO” (aka an enormous RV style bus filled with wifi, video games and snacks) to the Minot AFB’s Freedom Fest in June of this year.
Sova also mentioned that they will be sending a team to the state later in the fall to discuss ways in which the USO can better support the local area and North Dakota military installations. While speaking with Sova, it was evident that they are open to new ideas and love feedback from the community about how to serve them better.
This non-profit organization strives to support current active duty members and their family by simply being there, bringing snacks, making people feel comfortable and offering a little bit of home comfort no matter where the military member may be stationed. The next time you’re stranded in a large airport or see that American colored USO logo, go in and say “hi”. You will be greeted with smiles, food, a place to call home, if only for a little while.