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NEWS | July 8, 2021

In need of a break: the USO has you covered!

By Senior Airman John Foister 633rd Air Base Wing

Soldiers relax and have a bite to eat from the shelves lined with various colorful snack packages. The smell of freshly made popcorn wafts through the air as a tray of cookies made from scratch sits on the other side of the room.

The place is known as the Fort Eustis USO.  Here, service members have a gathering place where they can kick back, relax, and grab a snack. For Lisa Nichting, Center Operations Supervisor, , it means a whole lot more.

“My job is to talk to the soldiers, to make them feel welcome, if they need to unwind, or just need you to listen,” said Nichting.

As the main visitors, the U.S. Army Advanced Individual Training soldiers, who don’t always have access to video games, movies, computers, board games and snacks, are provided for by the efforts of volunteers and donations.

Together, these things aim to increase troop morale and foster a sense of camaraderie.

“They’re playing checkers, they’re playing pool, actually engaging with each other, or they’re just relaxing,” said Nichting. “I want [them] to have a gathering place.”

With so many soldiers returning regularly, the Fort Eustis USO definitely qualifies as a place to relax, have fun and even meet new people.

For Mrs. Nichting, who has a lot of experience running recreation centers on military bases overseas, creating a welcoming space for those away from family and friend is key.

“When my husband passed away, I say that I ran away and joined the circus [at the USO] and was actually, healing for me; it was kind of going home” Nichting said.  

A home that holds a special place in her heart after meeting her late husband at a location in Kitzingen Army Airfield,

“I always hoped that my husband would walk into a place like this and really feel welcome.”