First Lady Visits USO Center at Fort Belvoir
By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service
FORT BELVOIR, Va., Sept. 11, 2013 First Lady Michelle Obama and actor Gary Sinise paused for arts and crafts with young people during their tour of the new USO Warrior and Family Center here in honor of Patriot Day and National Service Day of Remembrance.
Located adjacent to Warrior Transition Unit and the Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, the Warrior and Family Center provides a hub for programs and activities that promote physical health and recreation, family strengthening, positive behavioral health, education, employment and community reintegration.
With cookies from White House pastry chefs in tow, Obama thanked children and their families, lauding them for their sacrifices and heroism.
“We're so proud of what you do because your parents, your moms and dads and grandparents and cousins and uncles and aunts, whoever is in your family [and] serving -- you guys help them help our country,” Obama said to the cavorting tykes. “And we just wanted to shine a light on all of the great work that the USO is doing for military families all over this country.”
Obama also thanked Sinise, whose popular “Lt. Dan Band” -- named from his character in the film “Forrest Gump” -- has become a dedicated partner to the USO and other nonprofit organizations that support the military and their families. The band later presented a concert for the post community.
Andrew Starr, 6, the son of a Marine colonel, said he and his 5-year-old sister have already secured their personal invitations to the White House Halloween party after spending quality time with the first lady.
“I cut out our hands and I got to cut out the first lady’s hand – but not the real one, a paper one,” Andrew assured.
Kerry Stevens, USO family and troops programs and events coordinator, said she was pleased that the distinguished visitors initiated the visit to the volunteer-run center.
“[The first lady] worked with kids and their projects and really had a fun time with them – they were just so excited,” Stevens said. “And it’s exciting for us to get to offer this opportunity to the families.”