What is the USO?

Air Force by on December 1, 2006 at 1:03 pm

I’m at USO in the Seattle airport, waiting to catch a flight to Indianapolis. Most people I know don’t know what the USO is (I certainly didn’t), so here’s a quick post for those interested.

  • A non-profit organization largely staffed by volunteers that provides services to traveling military and their families
  • Morale Tours: The USO is most famously known for the entertainment tours that they run for troops in theater. Musicians, Comedians, Cheerleaders, etc. At deployed bases, there are few events anticipated more than the USO shows
  • Airport Lounges: The closest civilian equivalent are the lounges offered by most airlines to their premium travelers (but more military and family oriented). The Seatac USO has:
    • Wireless Internet, a computer terminal, XBox, TV, etc.
    • Free drinks and snacks: Sandwiches, milk and cereal, coffee, donuts, CupONoodles, etc.
    • Rack room (8 or so cots)
    • Couches, tables, a Christmas tree, etc. All sorts of reading materials, etc.
    • A nursery complete with games, toys and cribs
    • Volunteers that staff the USOs also
  • 132 locations, most of them in major airports (unfortunately always outside security).

The quality of USOs varies greatly. At SJC it is a trailer outside of the terminal, while at BWI the USO is new and in top condition. I remember bringing Halo 2 there the day it came out and playing with an assortment of wide-eyed young recruits on the 50″ TV there. Although the facilities are frequently dingy, they are comfortable and staffed by always-warm volunteers.

The USO has a great history (around since World War 2). Their tagline, “Until Every One Comes Home” just warms the heart. Learn more about the USO on their website.


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