USO Metro Takes ‘Home’ to Troops with New Mobile Canteen
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Apr. 23, 2009 The USO of Metropolitan Washington unveiled the newest addition to its arsenal in a brief ceremony at the Pentagon today.
The USO Mobile Canteen is a 34-foot vehicle that will deploy throughout the Washington Metropolitan Region in support of community events and on military installations to support events and training exercises.
“I think this is an example, yet again, of Metro USO’s commitment to support our troops and their families no matter where they’re serving,” said Deborah Mullen, wife of Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “Having this is basically taking a little bit of home out to the troops. That’s why it’s so important.”
The USO provides servicemembers a place to be comfortable and relax during their downtime, she added.
“It’s, I think, one of the most important things that we do,” she said. “From 1941 until now, the USO has always been the bridge between the American people and the U.S. military. That’s an incredibly important role.”
From the servicemembers’ point of view, the new mobile canteen is a validation of military strategy.
Air Force Maj. Gen. Ralph J. Jodice II, commander of Air Force District Washington, said he looks forward to seeing the USO’s new “urban assault vehicle” at many events around the region.
The chief of naval operations took his praise a bit further, and he added an endorsement from Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James T. Conway, who cut the ribbon to dedicate the canteen.
“The Navy is particularly pleased that, after all these years, the USO has finally seen the light and they’ve gone expeditionary,” Navy Adm. Gary Roughead said. “Jim Conway and I are thrilled that you’re using our mode, but because of that, you’re going to reach out and touch so many, many more people, and that’s what it’s all about.”
With food preparation facilities onboard, as well as an audiovisual system, that’s exactly what USO Metro hopes to accomplish with the help of Boeing Co., which sponsored the vehicle’s construction and first three years’ operating expenses.
“This is an amazing team effort,” Elaine Rodgers, president of USO Metro, said. “This thing cost over $250,000 to build.”
The defense contractor approached USO Metro asking for ways it could do more to support the troops. Rogers said USO Metro submitted its proposal for the mobile canteen and got the green light in September 2007.
The ceremony included a tour of the vehicle and a lunch typical of what servicemembers will get when the vehicle shows up to support a military events: hot dogs, chips and soda.