Most retired and active duty soldiers observing Veterans Day next month have memories of how the USO has positively impacted their lives. Often these memories are tied to a deployment thousands of miles away from home and family. For 75 years, the USO has served men and women in the U.S. military by keeping them connected to family, home and country.
Many don’t realize the USO isn’t part of the federal government. A congressionally-chartered, private organization powered by volunteers, the USO relies on the generosity of individuals, organizations and corporations for support. Some of its best known volunteers include USO tour entertainers such as Stephen Colbert, Gary Sinise, Toby Keith, and, of course, Bob Hope. Hope first toured with the USO shortly after it was incorporated in 1941. He made his last USO tour at the age of 87, five decades after he first made troops laugh.
In addition to its trademark USO tours and more than 180 USO centers worldwide offering round-the-clock hospitality to soldiers near and far, the USO has special programs for military kids and service members.
The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families is the USO’s longest running, free traveling tour for military kids and their families. Final shows for 2016 take place this month. Here’s the 2016 tour schedule. The USO also partners with Comfort Crew for Military Kids to send speakers to tour military bases worldwide. The mission is to help military kids ages 6 to 15 become happier, healthier and more confident dealing with military life. Check out the 2016 tour schedule.
The USO Transition 360 Alliance supports soldiers transitioning back into civilian life. This alliance of five top service organizations helps hundreds of thousands of service members and their families start the process of transitioning out of military life each year. It offers free tools and resources to help those leaving the military plan for the future, pursue new careers, and strengthen their families. As with all USO programs, there’s no cost for military members.