America Supports You: Former Chairman Praises USO for Supporting Troops
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 10, 2007 The former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff praised the United Service Organizations yesterday for the support the group gives men and women in uniform.
Retired Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, a new USO board member, represented the organization in accepting a check for $325,000 from S&K Sales. The company does business with the Defense Commissary Agency and raised the money through its annual fundraising effort. S&K has donated more than $2 million to the USO over the past 10 years, Mark Phillips, a USO spokesman, said.
During yesterday’s check-presentation ceremony here, Myers held up the USO, and all who support its work, as an example of unique partnerships around the country that support the U.S. military. It’s a concept he said is uniquely American and sometimes draws surprise from other countries’ military leaders.
“Here we see America in action,” Myers said. “We see people turning to support the troops, and I would tell you it's never been more important.”
After almost six years at war, many servicemembers have multiple deployments under their belts and need the kind of support the USO provides more than ever, he said.
He remembered his own experiences with the USO and how grateful he was for the support it gave him and his family. “But today's environment, it is even, I think, even more stressing on our people,” he said. “The USO is such a critical piece of helping reduce some of that stress.”
Myers cited the hospitality the USO provides at airports for troops returning home from deployments or for rest and recuperation, but more importantly, for those deploying. In addition to refreshments, TV, Internet access and other services at USO centers, USO volunteers offer something more: caring, he said. “These volunteers make you feel like this is home, and they want to make sure that everything is taken care of before you get on that airplane and wing your way to the Middle East,” he said.
In combat theaters, the USO follows up on this service, bringing world-class entertainment to deployed troops and, along with it, a piece of home, Myers said.
“I don't think you can calculate” the value of this support, he said. “All we know is that our troops need this kind of love from home. And partnerships like this that make it possible, to me, are just essential if we're going to be successful in this struggle we have with violent extremism.”
Myers thanked the USO and all who make its work possible. “This is a very important organization that we've got to keep vibrant, and you've helped do that,” he said. “All of us have to keep the USO charging along. It's a very important piece of taking care of those who take care of us.”