New Family Care Center Set to Open in Bethesda
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 31, 2014 A new state of the art family care center is set to open at Naval Support Activity Bethesda tomorrow.
Marine Corps Cpl. Rebecca Fletcher tours the new USO Warrior and Family Center at Naval Support Activity Bethesda in Bethesda, Md., March 28, 2014. DOD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The USO and Naval Support Activity Bethesda hosted wounded warriors and their families for a March 28 preview of the facility. Among the features of the 16,000-square foot complex are a National Football League-sponsored lounge complete with video game stations, a Charlie Sheen-sponsored music room, wireless internet access and a healing garden.
Marine Corps Cpl. Rebecca Fletcher said she enjoyed touring the new building and anticipates it will help build camaraderie at Naval Support Activity Bethesda.
“It’s gorgeous,” she said. “We’ve been watching it go up. It was gorgeous on the outside and coming inside it’s absolutely beautiful in here. It’s really nice.
“I think it’s going to kind of bring us together as like a bigger family,” Fletcher continued. “We’re kind of a big family anyway, but it’ll bring us closer.”
Army Sgt. Kevin Gatson also enjoyed the preview of the new facility, and noted “quite a few people … will definitely get quite a bit of enjoyment out of being here.”
“It means a lot,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a good thing. It’ll give the guys something to do when appointments and things are finished. This place will be someplace to go to have something to do.”
Pamela Horton, director of Warrior and Family Centers for USO Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore, said the new center broke ground in October 2012, after more than three years of planning at an approximate cost of $14 million.
“We picked, unfortunately, the harshest winter we’ve had in recent memory in this area,” she said. “So it kind of put us behind -- especially some of our outside work. We’re still catching up from the 21 days that we lost for weather.”
Horton said the USO believes the new center’s traffic will be similar to the Fort Belvoir center, opened on Feb. 5, 2013, with about 50,000 people using the facility annually.
“They don’t necessarily want to go miles away to go to something. They need something that’s close; they want something that’s comfortable.”
And they want something where they don’t have to feel like they’re being stared at or on display, she said.
“Think of this as your second home,” she said. “This is the way that the American public is thanking you for your service. They donated to build this facility to make it possible for [you] to come here and feel at home.”
(Follow Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone Marshall on Twitter:@MarshallAFPS)