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USO Distributes 300,000th Care Package, Expands Support

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 10, 2004 – United Service Organizations has distributed more than 300,000 Operation USO Care Packages to troops since the program began in September 2002, USO officials announced Aug. 6.

Initiated by the USO of Metropolitan Washington, Operation USO Care Package is a way for the American people to show their support for servicemembers, officials said, and is endorsed by the Defense Department.

The packages include items specifically requested by military personnel serving in Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, such as prepaid international calling cards, disposable cameras, toiletries, snacks and playing cards.

"The tremendous success of Operation USO Care Package is a true testament to the support USO volunteers and the American people provide for our men and women deployed in the war against terrorism," said Edward A. Powell, president and chief executive officer of USO World Headquarters. "This is but one example of the bridge the USO provides to individuals and corporations to reach out and show their support for military personnel," he added.

Expanding its outreach to troops, the USO opened a center in Kuwait last December, and recently opened centers in Qatar and in Vicenza, Italy. The Qatar center offers troops a 96-hour pass through the Rest and Recuperation Program, where they can take a break and enjoy cultural and sporting activities.

Another special program for deployed troops is USO Operation Phone Home. Donations to this program help the USO purchase prepaid, international calling cards for servicemembers, including those stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To help boost troop morale, the USO also increased the number of celebrity entertainment tours over the last few years These included numerous tours to Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations in the Persian Gulf region, as well as stateside "welcome home" celebrations for returning troops, USO officials noted.

To support these special programs and other services the USO provides to military personnel and their families, people can call (800) USO-7469 toll free or go to the USO World Headquarters Web site. People also can contact local USO centers, USO officials added, to volunteer their time and services or to make monetary contributions. Locations and Web links can be found on the USO headquarters site.

(Based on a USO release.)

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