USO: Serving the Men and Women Who Serve Our Country
During World War II, when America's young soldiers needed a morale boost, a group with a special brand of "volunteers" was always there with a bit of support from the home front. Today that same organization is still so popular that its shows are known by just three letters ... USO!
This year's “National Memorial Day Concert” on PBS will include a special feature on the USO with television, film and theater actor and director Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band (www.ltdanband.com). Star of the new hit series "CSI: New York", Sinise is the co-founder of the band which gets its name from Sinise's character in "Forrest Gump". With more than 11 USO tours to its credit, the Lt. Dan Band has an extraordinary commitment to entertaining and serving the troops.
Additionally, Gary Sinise has a personal commitment to alleviating suffering in Iraq. Not only has he traveled there in support of the troops, he also started "Operation Iraqi Children" (www.operationiraqichildren.org), a website where schools in the U.S. can go and learn how to organize their own drive to collect supplies for the children of Iraq.
The USO Mission
In times of peace and war, the USO has consistently delivered comfort, morale and recreational services to service members and their families. A nonprofit, congressionally chartered, private organization, the USO relies on the generosity of individuals, organizations and corporations to support USO activities. (http://www.uso.org)
The USO's most important resource is its volunteers. More than 33,500 members in the USO international corps of volunteers provide an estimated 371,417 hours of service annually, a worldwide personal contribution of more than $3 million. Since 1941, every U.S. president has served as the USO's Honorary Chairman.
Celebrity Entertainment Tours
USO World Headquarters produces the overseas celebrity entertainment tours, which reach hundreds of thousands of uniformed men and women each year. In 2004, the USO sent 55 tours to 22 countries, entertaining more than 348,000 service men and women. Even in peacetime, entertainers provide a much-needed break in the midst of duty tours overseas.
Services and Programs
The USO currently operates 123 centers worldwide. USO World Headquarters acts as the enabling body for all programs, setting overall policy and strategies, and providing training and technical assistance.
Many USOs offer orientation programs to promote resources within the local civilian community. Intercultural understanding fosters positive interaction between local citizens and their American military guests. General programs and services include: