by Carolyn Gray, NAS Pensacola Public Affairs Office
The United Service Organization (USO) strengthens America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country throughout their service to the nation.
In 1941 under the helm of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, several service associations merged together becoming the USO to lift the morale of the military and provide support to the home front.
The USO is not part of the federal government. As a congressionally chartered, private organization, the USO relies on the generosity of individuals, organizations and corporations to support its activities and is powered by a family of volunteers to accomplish the mission of connection.
The USO office onboard Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola services 200 to 300 service members on a daily basis. The two-story building covers 10,000 square feet of space, making it the largest USO in the United States. All programs and services are free to active duty, retirees, reservists and dependents. There are designated areas for music, movies, studying, pool tables and gaming. Other services include Wi-Fi, library and a computer lab with printer and Common Access Card (CAC) readers.
Allyson Kelly, field programs coordinator has been working with the USO for two years. She oversees upcoming events, maintains social media outlets and works closely with other volunteers. Kelly is just one of the 30,000 volunteers worldwide that provides time and support to the mission.
“We could not support the military community without the helping hands of our volunteers. I enjoy working here because I constantly meet new people every day,” Kelly said.
USO volunteers focus on the main objectives of the organization – unite, deliver, entertain and transition.
Meeting new people and creating lasting relationships is only half of the USO’s mission. Maintaining strong connections between service members and their families no matter where they serve is the other half.
This year three million service members and their families have participated in location-based programs.
With 200 plus locations in 7 continents, the USO delivers support to service members stationed abroad who are training in isolated locations or on arduous missions in remote parts of the world. Through expeditionary outreach support – including care packages, snacks, holiday celebration items and internet services provided throughout challenging deployments.
For more information, visit www.uso.org/northwestflorida or visit the local office located onboard NAS Pensacola at 153 Ellyson Avenue bldg.. 625-D. The office is open daily from 9 am to 8 pm.