Close up of USO camouflage backpack

Happy Birthday USO!

On Feb. 4, the United Service Organizations (USO) celebrates its birthday. This date is a great chance for us to learn more about its history, mission and the many ways the USO helps support military members and their families. We can also check out different ways we can all support its mission and get involved.

USO’s History

As the USO celebrates its birthday, we recognize its service since 1941 and appreciate the focus it places on our Service members and their families.

Right before America got involved in World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had an idea.  He wanted to unite several service associations into one organization to lift the morale of our military and build support on the home front. Those entities, including the Salvation Army, Young Men’s Christian Association, National Jewish Welfare Board and more, became the United Service Organizations.

The USO has supported our nation’s military and their families for more than seven decades. Today, the USO has more than 250 centers in countries on every continent, operated by thousands of staff and volunteers whose goal is to provide “best-in-class service to those who sacrifice so much for America.” 

USO’s Mission and Programming

Woman volunteering in a food line at a USO eventThe USO’s mission is to strengthen America’s military Service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country throughout their service to the nation. As the USO states on its site, “From the moment they join, through their assignments and deployments, and as they transition back to their communities, the USO is always by their side.”

In order to fulfill this mission, the USO offers a wide variety of programs and services. To learn more about all they do or about a particular program, check out the USO’s web page and click on the heading “How We Help.”

Here are some highlights:

  • USO operates more than 250 USO centers around the world.
  • USO airport centers offer hospitality for traveling Service members and their families throughout the country.
  • USO tours provide opportunities for celebrities and personal heroes to honor and thank Service members through in-person and virtual programming such as concerts, meet and greets, holiday messages and more.
  • USO runs several programs to keep Service members and their families connected such as:
    • Operation Phone Home® connects Service members and their families through private telephone networks and internet connectivity.Bob Hope performing at USO
    • Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program allows Service members to record themselves reading a bedtime story to their children when stationed away from home.
    • USO Coffee Connections are monthly gatherings held for military spouses as a way to connect after a relocation, share advice and much more.
  • USO’s Military Virtual Programming is a series of digital engagements for troops and families to access from anywhere, any time on any device, including live performances, discussions, workshops and more.

This is only a snapshot of the different ways the USO strives to fulfill its mission and uplift the military community.

How to Get Involved With the USO

The USO is a congressionally chartered, private organization that relies on donations and volunteers to accomplish its mission. You can get involved with the USO in different ways, including:

  • Volunteering with USO — Volunteers do everything ranging from helping at special events, welcoming home Service members, working at the front desk and much more.
  • Donating to USO — Donations are what the USO uses to keep its special programming up and running.

For more ideas on how to get involved, visit USO’s Ways to Support page.

As the USO celebrates its birthday, we recognize its service since 1941 and appreciate the focus it places on our Service members and their families.

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