USO Celebrates 75-Year Legacy and Invites Americans to Join the Campaign to Connect Service Members and their Families by Sending One Million Messages of Support

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| Source: United Service Organizations (USO)

President Barack Obama Honors USO for 75 years of service to America's military with a letter of support

Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, USO 75th Honorary Committee co-chairs, alongside nearly 50 leaders of society, including heads of state, former senior military, CEOs, entertainers, sports legends, media and dignitaries, join the USO in a yearlong celebration forging new bonds between Americans and the military with #USOconnects

ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 4, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today marks the 75th anniversary of the USO, the military support nonprofit that has grown to embody the nation's commitment to keeping military service members connected to family, home and country throughout their service to the nation.

On February 4, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt led the founding of the United Service Organizations, a national organization dedicated to keeping service members connected to the people, places and things they were about to enter a war to protect. The USO quickly became an indispensable component of military service for generations of American men and women in uniform.

In a letter to the USO, President Barack Obama recognized the USO's essential contribution to our nation's service members.

"...the USO's dedication to those who risk their lives to protect our country embodies the spirit of service for which our Nation stands," Obama wrote. "Today more than 30,000 volunteers and millions of active supporters carry this legacy forward at USO centers across the globe, connecting members of our Armed Forces back to family, home and country - the very things they have sworn to defend and protect."

As the USO rededicates itself to the nation by forging new bonds between Americans and their military service members and families, it kicks off a year of celebration with the announcement of its 75th Anniversary Honorary Committee co-chaired by Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. The committee includes leaders of industry, entertainers and national leaders who have illustrated compassion, care and steadfast support for America's military community. Each has made personal sacrifices to help the USO further its vital mission of connection.

The Bush family has a distinguished record of supporting the military and the USO. The longstanding relationship dates back to 1942 when Prescott S. Bush, the father of George Herbert Walker Bush and grandfather of George W. Bush, became the organization's second campaign chairman. In 2013, the USO Warrior and Family Center at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, was dedicated in honor of Prescott Bush for his vision, leadership and extraordinary fundraising efforts.

"As commander in chief and through my most recent work with the Bush Institute's Military Service Initiative, it's an honor to recognize the hard work of the USO and their commitment to the service and sacrifice of our veterans and military families." President George W. Bush said. "As Americans it's our duty to serve those who volunteered to wear the uniform in defense of our nation. On behalf of my dad and my grandfather and my entire family, I congratulate the USO on this significant milestone."

For the full 75th Anniversary Honorary Committee click here.

From its humble beginnings of letter writing, sending care packages and staging USO Camp Shows, the USO has evolved to bring relaxation and entertainment to the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, reservists and National Guardsmen where they need it most. In four regions – Europe, Pacific, Southwest Asia and the United States – our connectivity has expanded from phone cards and hard lines to our own private satellite network that allows service members to connect with their families. Some have even watched the births of their children from thousands of miles away. Three state-of-the-art Warrior Centers have been built in Europe and the United States to help our nation's wounded, ill and injured and their families and caregivers find their new normal. And in 2015, the USO announced its newest initiative, the USO Transition 360 Alliance, to help military personnel and their families successfully transition to civilian life after their service ends. The USO Transition 360 Alliance partners include the Comfort Crew for Military Kids, Hire Heroes USA, RP/6 and Stronger Families.

"Since 1941, many leaders have positively impacted the programs and services of the USO to make significant and lasting impressions on our service members and their families," USO President and CEO Dr. J.D. Crouch II said. "Their generous donations of time and dedicated efforts on behalf of the USO have helped us become the vital bridge that keeps America connected to the 1 percent who serve and protect this country."

Along with the 75th Anniversary Honorary Committee and the more than 180 USO locations worldwide, the USO invites all Americans to join us in strengthening our service members as part of our 75th anniversary celebration. The USO believes service members draw strength from connections to the things they love and fight for – and, as a nation, one of the best ways to show our appreciation is through messages of support and gratitude. On Thursday, February 4th, join us in our Campaign to Connect and send a message to our military members and their families by:

  • Visiting USO.org/connects – the USO's new digital message platform – and send as many messages as possible beginning February 4th.
  • Share a personal message on your own social channels to service members and their families using #USOconnects
  • Help spread the word – encourage friends, family, neighbors and co-workers to do the same.

Some of the upcoming highlights of the yearlong celebration include:

  • New Mobile USO debuts in NYC – The new Mobile USO is 38 feet long with three slide outs and a canteen window that will be able to support more service members than its predecessors. It includes two 65-inch TVs, five Xbox gaming systems, internal and external sound systems and is wheelchair-accessible.
  • Global USO Center Celebrations - From cake-cuttings to open houses, our more than 180 locations worldwide will celebrate on February 4.
  • USO 75th Anniversary Reception in Washington, D.C.
  • USO Route 75 – Sponsored by Jeep®, who is also celebrating their 75th anniversary, the USO story team will hit the road to visit USO locations around the United States. Beginning today through July 4, the USO will share stories advancing the dialogue on issues facing today's military, including military transition and the disconnect that persists between America's military and civilian populations.
  • ON★PATROL 75th Anniversary Commemorative Issue -The magazine of the USO reflects on our organization's history, what we're doing today and what lies ahead for the organization. The digital edition of the magazine will be available at http://bit.ly/OP_75.
  • Operation Roadtrip - USO and Roadtrip Nation will send three transitioning service members or veterans on a four-week road trip this spring. The road trippers will discover compatible careers and interview other veterans who have successfully found meaningful work after their service. Operation Roadtrip will be filmed for a fall public television documentary illustrating how veterans can translate their unique skills and leadership abilities into new and exciting careers.
  • USO 75th Anniversary Gala at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. – October 20, 2016
  • 75th Anniversary Entertainment Tours - USO will continue to deliver its high-quality entertainment to locations around the world to give service members and their families a much-needed break from the rigors of military duty.
  • USO/NFL 75th Anniversary Team Tours – Celebrating both the USO's 75th anniversary and its 50-year partnership with the NFL, the USO will send out two team-specific tours in 2016, as well as their ever popular player tours. First up are the Indianapolis Colts who will deploy head coach Chuck Pagano and players Mike Adams, Anthony Castonzo, D'Qwell Jackson and Pat McAfee to Japan. Later in the year, the Atlanta Falcons will get into the action and show their celebratory support.
  • USO Documentary – Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, the USO will be showcased in a behind-the-scenes film that will highlight the USO's work in addition to its history, legacy and mission.

The USO's yearlong anniversary celebration would not be possible without the generosity of its corporate partners. As the founding partner of the USO, The Coca-Cola Company has worked closely with the USO since 1941. This partnership has grown from not only refreshing military personnel through financial and in-kind product assistance, to supporting the development of programming that will drive continued support for service members and their families for years to come.

To find out more about the USO, visit us at uso.org and be sure to join the conversation online using #USOconnects.

About the USO

The USO strengthens America's military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to the nation. At hundreds of locations worldwide, we are united in our commitment to connect our service members and their families through countless acts of caring, comfort and support. The USO is not a government agency, but a private nonprofit organization. Our programs, services and entertainment tours are made possible by the American people, the support of our corporate partners and the dedication of our volunteers and staff.

In addition to individual donors and corporate sponsors, the USO is supported by President's Circle Partners: AT &T, the BNSF Railway Foundation, Clark Construction Group, LLC, The Coca-Cola Company, Johnson & Johnson, Kroger, NFL and Four-Star Partners: BIC, ConAgra Foods, FedEx, GEICO, JCPenney, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, TKS and the Wawa Foundation. We are also supported through the United Way and Combined Federal Campaign (CFC-11381). To join us in this important mission, and to learn more about the USO, please visit uso.org.

Media Contact:
Gayle Fishel, 703.908.6433