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Remarks at the Pentagon USO Exhibit Dedication Ceremony

As Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn, III, Pentagon, Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thanks very much, “Mr. Mayor.” Mike does a terrific job. When he can’t avoid earthquakes, he deals well with them and the things that they cause. It is a true tribute to him just how well this building functions.  The transition as we have rehabilitated the Pentagon over a more than a decade—moving people in and out—has been truly seamless. Much of that credit goes to Mike Rhodes. So thank you for everything you do.

I want to thank all of you for joining us in the tenth corridor to pay a fitting tribute to one of the great organizations in this country, the USO. For 70 years they have been supporting our troops wherever they go. In the 1990’s, I personally saw the USO’s contributions in Kosovo and Bosnia. More recently I have seen the USO at work in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But this is not all they do. The USO medical facilities are an extremely important contribution. They are a big presence in Landstuhl, Bethesda and until just recently Walter Reed as well as Fort Belvoir. They bring so much to our troops and to their families.

The USO is known for the celebrity tours you see, going back to the era of Bob Hope. That is certainly an important morale boost that they still do. The Chairman has been known to lead a few of those trips. But they do so much more. Whether it’s the care packages, phone cards—whatever it is the troops and their families need, they provide.

The leadership of Sloan Gibson over the past few years has opened a new chapter.  He’s brought a business mind to the leadership of the USO. And he has brought a truly breathtaking fundraising ability with a $100 million capital campaign to build new centers such as the ones going into Fort Belvoir and Bethesda. These centers for wounded warriors will be a whole new chapter in the kind of support the USO provides to our military men and women and their families.

It is terrific that we are able to recognize the USO with the corridor you are about to see behind me. It recognizes the seven decades of service the USO has provided. So I invite you to take a look at that.

Once again, a warm welcome to all of you, and congratulations for a terrific job to Sloan and the whole USO team.

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