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NEWS | Sept. 3, 2013

USOHRCV improves lives of Service members, families

By Airman Areca T. Wilson 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The United Service Organization of Hampton Roads and Central Virginia is committed to improving the lives of Service members and their families through programs designed to raise morale and by providing a home away from home and emotional support to the families of those who have chosen to serve the nation.

Through continuous development, the USOHRCV has created new programs and services to aid Service members and their families, while staying loyal to its original mission.

The USOHRCV supports military members and their families in four primary areas: quality of life enhancement, family outreach, warrior and family care support, and families of the fallen, said Kelly Fletcher, USOHRCV director of marketing and media relations.

To help improve the quality of life for Service members and their families, the USO has implemented programs such as Military Appreciation Day; the "Adopt-A-Service person" program, held during Thanksgiving to provide a "home for the holiday" atmosphere for single Service members who cannot be with their loved ones, and the Annual Holiday Party, which allows family members of deployed military personnel the opportunity to record video messages to loved ones.

The USOHRCV's Exceptional Family Member Program, provides a day of fun at King's Dominion for military families who have children with serious or life- threatening illnesses, or for wheelchair- bound children. Families enjoy free admission to the park, a group picnic and easy handicapped-access to rides.

"As the nature of military service changes and evolves, the USO must continually evaluate the needs of our military members and change course in order to more effectively serve them," said Fletcher. "Deployed Service members focus better on the often dangerous tasks at hand when they know their families are cared for, and the USO strives to provide not only special activities for families, but a meeting space for Family Readiness Groups, and volunteer opportunities that keep military spouses engaged and build their resumes for future employment."

Service members are not only given support through programs designed to raise morale, but are also offered services, such as handicapped-accessible vans, which are available to transport wounded warriors to special activities throughout the region. The USOHRCV is also standing by to assist families whose Service member has made the ultimate sacrifice.

"From the moment a loved one is informed of the loss of their warrior, the USO is with them every step of the way from their home, to Dover [Air Force Base, Del.], and back home again," said Fletcher. "Here in Hampton Roads, we have a very special staff member whose role it is to make sure the grieving family receives the support they need to help them navigate through this most difficult and challenging process."

The USOHRCV depends on the generosity of individuals and corporations to fund its programs and services. It receives 49 percent of its funding through private contributions, 44 percent through corporate sponsorship and 7 percent through foundations and grants.

"The USO of Hampton Roads and Central Virginia has seen an influx of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen since the drawdown began overseas," said Fletcher. "This influx has created more need for USOHRCV in the community. All USO centers are a 'home away from home' for these men and women."

The USO at Langley Air Force Base is located at 62 Walnut Avenue, Building 247, and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., while the Fort Eustis USO Center is located at 833 Monroe Avenue is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. For more information or to volunteer, contact the USOHRCV Administrative Office at 764-5232.