The USO rocks. When the Army transferred me from Arizona to Alaska in February, 1976, I had an overnight layover in the Seattle airport. All my baggage was somewhere in the airport for changing planes, so I was stuck in my dress uniform. I had a little pocket money with me, but not enough for an airport meal. I hadn’t been issued any winter clothing yet, so my uniform jacket was all there was between me and the air conditioning in the airport. I was tired from 12 hours of hitting every airport from LA to Seattle, literally spending more time on take offs and landings than in the air. The last meal I’d had was breakfast – the flights were all too short for snacks, so the kitchens hadn’t been stocked.
Cold, hungry, with no place to go and nothing to do, I wandered the airport wishing there was something more than hard plastic chairs to spend the night on.
After a couple of hours, I found an out-of-the-way office with a USO sign on the door. I’d never been to one, but went in and was greeted by a woman old enough to be my grandma and the sight of a box of doughnuts on a counter. She set up a cot in a quiet corner, and after a sweet dinner I finally got to relax and get some sleep before flying up to Fairbanks.
The USO has done this and much, much more, for countless members of the military, traveling where they go, setting up where they’ll be. We all know about the entertainment they arrange, but they do a lot more that seldom gets any publicity.
In 2017, as you think about possible charities to give to, please consider the USO. If you can help, please do. If you can’t, send a prayer for them and everyone they help. Those three letters are home when home is a long way away.