Current USO Initiatives That Support Military Families
It’s been awhile since I checked out what the USO is doing to support military families – and as they always have a number of programs going on, I thought it would be good to provide an update. Whether you belong to a military family, or just want to support our military and their loved ones, please keep in mind these current initiatives that were shared with me by a representative of the USO:
OPERATION PHONE HOME®: Staying connected with family is one of our troops most requested services. At our centers located in combat zones, the USO provides a private phone network for troops to make free phone calls home, access to computers with free high speed internet bandwidth to connect, online, with family back home, as well as free wireless Internet access for troops with their own computers. For those forward deployed troops who are serving in remote areas without access to our centers, the USO provides free international pre-paid calling cards. And many USO centers stateside also provide free internet and phones to connect with home no matter how far away.
UNITED THROUGH READING’S MILITARY PROGRAM: In 2006, the USO partnered with United Through Reading® to host its’ program at select USO centers worldwide. Troops can visit a participating USO center to read a story aloud to their children. This is then recorded on camera, and the USO mails the DVD and book home for the child. Families then send back a photo of the child watching their DVD. In 2011, 60,000 recordings were sent to military families across the world.
MILITARY FAMILY CARE PACKAGE: Sending a care package home is the focus of this program that helps families stay connected. Troops headed overseas write a note which is placed in a special journal which is packed in a “care package” with other useful items like prepaid calling cards, disposable cameras, and gift certificates for groceries and tutoring services. The package arrives home several weeks after the service member deploys, reminding the family that their loved ones are thinking of them.
USO PHOTO BOOK PROGRAM: Through a partnership with RocketLife, LLC, the USO Photo Book program gives loved ones a chance to connect with family and friends deployed overseas by creating and sending a free personal soft-cover photo album sized perfectly to fit in a uniform cargo pocket. USO Photo Book supports and comforts our service men and women by helping them stay connected with their families and supporters back home.
USO WARRIOR AND FAMILY CARE: USO supports wounded, ill and injured troops, their families and caregivers through multiple programs and partnerships with best-in-class organizations that help families reconnect as they continue their recovery journey. Families can participate in USO programs including Caregivers Conferences to USO/National Military Family Association Healing Adventures Camps and USO/Stronger Families, and Oxygen Seminars. Two new USO Warrior and Family Centers will create an environment to reunite families in the face of change. USO Warrior and Family Care includes support and programs for families of the fallen, such as USO’s partnership with TAPS to provide Good Grief Camps for children and families.
USO WISHBOOK: USO Wishbook is an alternative giving catalog that allows customers to tailor their contributions by interest, recipient or by price. The amounts range from $25 and under to $500 and over. Gifts for kids this month include: A Phone Call Home ($25), Growing Up Brave Deployment Kits ($25), Family Fun Day ($50) and Bedtime Stories ($50).
These are all terrific ways that the USO shows support for our military and their families. To learn more, visit the USO website.