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USO - the force behind the forces

Connecting family, home and nation

The USO works to keep deployed service members connected to family, friends and their communities through various programs. Photo credit: USO

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The USO, or United Service Organizations, strengthens America's military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country wherever their service takes them.

As a congressionally chartered nonprofit organization, the USO is not part of the government and therefore does not receive any government funding.

Closer to home, the area's USO Northwest relies entirely on the generosity of individuals, organizations, foundations, corporations, and fundraisers to fund its work.

The USO Northwest supports military service members and their families throughout Washington state and Oregon.

"For over 79 years, the USO has been the nation's leading organization to serve the men and women in the military," Tim Bogle, USO NW's Director of Development & Marketing, wrote in an email.

With the help of over 600 volunteers, USO Northwest annually serves over 800,000 military members and their families.

Among the many ways that USO Northwest serves military members and their families, its Helping Hands program stands out.

Offered by no other USO nationwide, Helping Hands was established to support the need for military families to spend valuable time together.

Since military units have limited funding available to provide for morale building and family strengthening activities, to say nothing of the regulations prohibiting the military from fundraising or soliciting support, USO Northwest created the Helping Hands program to fund these critical activities.

"This program was established to provide service members and their families with the opportunity to spend time together with their families," continued Bogle.

"Welcome home celebrations, pre-deployment parties, family day picnics and holiday parties are just a few examples of the family-focused activities that our Helping Hands program makes possible."

Last year, the program served over 99,000 local military members and their families.

Donations to the Combined Federal Campaign, or CFC, play a vital role in allowing the USO Northwest to continue its work.

"One hundred percent of all contributions made to the USO Northwest through the CFC campaign go directly back to the military through our Helping Hands program," continued Bogle.

Support our military by supporting USO-NW through CFC number 15348.

To serve Joint Base Lewis-McChord's service members and their families, USO Northwest operates the Shali Center on McChord Field and three Mobile USO Canteens.

"To better serve the military and families stationed on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, USO Northwest opened a second center -- the Camp Lewis USO Center -- which is located across the street from Waller Hall," concluded Bogle.

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