It should come as no surprise that I am a fan of the USO.
As a cartoonist I have traveled with the USO to military hospitals and clinics around the world, visiting and drawing with wounded and injured troops. The USO has also sent many of us to forward operating bases in Iraq and Afghanistan to let the troops know they are appreciated (we also make them smile).
About two years ago, the USO began a new initiative that falls under the title “Warrior and Family Care Program.” Its mantra is that the USO will be there to support those who are wounded and injured “from the battlefield to the community.” When a Soldier is wounded, he or she is flown as quickly as possible to Germany. When he arrives, the USO is there. Right there, actually, co-located with the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility (called the CASF) at Ramstein Air Force Base. They are also there at Landstuhl if longer term care is necessary. The new Warrior Center is a 4000 square foot facility that allows the wounded and their families a chance to kick back in comfort.
When he arrives in the United States, the USO has representatives at all the major military hospitals around the country and is in the process of building two Warrior Centers at Walter Reed and Ft. Belvoir.
If the military member is destined to leave the military, the USO partners with “best in class” organizations around the country to be there – shoulder to shoulder – throughout the journey. They help with education, job training and the very important (and often overlooked) assimilation back into the community.
It is a daunting challenge, but one the USO takes very seriously.
From the battlefield to the community. Until they all come home.
The USO is our hero of the week.