BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (Oct. 27 2008) – The United Service Organization has been supporting U.S. forces for more than 67 years. Adapting to the needs of the troops, the USO has continually invented and reinvented programs to help troops. They have now put together a program called “USO 2 Go” to help better support troops deployed throughout isolated areas in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The program provides what the USO has to offer to troops in areas where security risks will not allow a USO.
“I am happy to see the USO making an effort to help our soldiers,” said Staff Sgt. Derek Reynolds, a Soldier with 101st Airborne [Air Assault] Division and a native of Ft. Wayne, Ind. “In days when most places are looking to make a quick buck off deployed soldiers, anyone who steps forward and says they will do it for free earns my respect.”
First, the USO representative for that country sends out the USO 2 GO list which includes snacks, furnishings, all major game consoles, sports equipment, guitars, keyboards and laptops with bags just to name a few items.
All the forward operating bases in the area receive the list and the troops check off on what they want. The list then gets sent back to the USO representative and their items are then shipped to them at no cost.
“It all goes back to taking care of the Soldiers,” said Anthony Young, Center Manager for the Pat Tillman Center on Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. “The USO is here for them.”
The USO has a variety of other programs already in place to help support troops overseas like United through reading and Operation Care Package. They are also developing programs.
Currently, the organization is working on a program called USO in a Box. This program, again, is designed to reach Soldiers who normally couldn’t be supported by the USO.
According to Young, the USO in a Box program is, essentially, a trailer filled with items and capabilities that a USO would have, such as Wi-Fi capabilities, major game consoles, televisions, and DVD players. The trailer can be sling loaded on a Chinook and dropped into smaller, more isolated bases, the kind of places USO is focusing on. A USO representative will ensure there are no problems setting up and running it.
“We want to reach those Soldiers in the field,” said Young.
With U.S. focus shifting from Iraq, Afghanistan looks like it will be the first to see the USO in a Box program.
“Soldiers will go an entire deployment and only see most of these things while on leave or waiting to leave theater,” said Reynolds. “These soldiers are out fighting the fight daily and living in the worst conditions.”