February 4th is the official creation day for the United Service Organizations (USO). The USO has been a fixture in military life for over 80 years. Let's dive into the history of the USO and how it impacts the modern military. According to their website, "Since 1941, the USO has been the nation's leading organization to serve the men and women in the U.S. military, and their families, throughout their time in uniform. From the moment they join, through their assignments and deployments, and as they transition back to their communities, the USO is always by their side."
An organization with a history
The organization was founded in 1941 and is private and not-for-profit. It also works with the Department of Defense (DOD). The organization was first formed in WWll to boost the morale of the troops and to encourage American citizen involvement in the war effort. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's goal was to foster more support for the men fighting overseas, which was much needed at the time. In fact, several preexisting organizations and associations were combined to create the USO. They were:
- The Salvation Army.
- The Young Men's Christian Association.
- The Young Women's Christian Association.
- The National Catholic Community Services.
- The National Travelers Aid Association.
- The National Jewish Welfare Board.
Most notably, the USO provided live entertainment to the troops and their families, which included comedians, actors and musicians. In addition, they also created social facilities for those in need, which they still actively do. Though they were disbanded between the end of WWll and the beginning of the Korean War, the USO was revived for the latter war and continued through the entirety of the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Lebanese peacekeeping, Gulf War, Afghanistan and the Iraq war.
The USO today
Today, USO still provides important resources to those who are members of the military community. They have over 200 locations in 14 countries and 27 US states. The USO has over 250 centers that "extend to countries on every continent, operated by thousands of staff and volunteers whose goals are to match our service members' vigilance and provide best-in-class service to those who sacrifice so much for America," according to their website.
The USO is a service that is provided to troops both while they are deployed and after deployment. They are also available for military families. Here is a short list of just some of the services offered:
- Operation Phone Home: The project offers military members internet connections and potential phones. 2.8 million minutes of free talk time and 760,000 wifi sessions were logged by service members connecting with their families in 2019.
- USO Care Package Program: You or someone you know can send a care package to the troops overseas.
- Entertainment: USO has provided more than 8.1 million center celebrity visits across the world.
- Transitioning Service Members and Military Spouses: The organization offers support and services to those who are transitioning to a new point in their service.
The USO has been around for over 80 years to provide different kinds of support to the military as a private, non-government entity. On February 4th, 2022 consider donating in celebration of the organization's birthday.