Chances are you’ve seen the USO near baggage claim with the bright red, white, and blue signage and the row of colorful flags, but do you know what the USO does for our military passengers? The United Services Organization was founded in 1941 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to bring together the many service organizations that had developed to support the troops in World War II. Today some of these organizations include Operation Phone Home, Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program, USO Care Package Program, and many more. The USO also operates centers where people in the military can go to use resources like internet, printing, TV, phone, etc. as well as grab a snack or a drink, or heat up a meal while they relax. These centers are open seven days a week, even on holidays.
What are USO Centers?
“We want our military to know that when they have a problem, find the USO,” explains Mia Walthers, USO Director for the Dayton International Airport as well as the WPAFB. Walthers describes the goal of the USO center is to be a comfortable, safe haven. In airports, USO centers are places where military personnel can wait for flights, enjoy a snack, and receive updates on their flight status thanks to the helpful flight screen installed by the airport.
How does DAY help the USO?
In fact, while every airport is different, Walthers loves how much the Dayton International Airport is both welcoming and accommodating to the USO. “Ever since I started as the USO Director for the airport, the first words I always hear when I meet someone is ‘What do you need?’ It’s great to know they care so much for our veterans and enlisted members of the military,” recounts Walthers.
How can passengers help the USO?
Not only does the airport support the USO, so does the Dayton community. “Everything in this space was donated: the couches, desk, tables, chairs, food, drinks, books, everything,” explains Walthers. In fact, there’s even a way for passengers to get involved by donating items to the USO baskets in the bookstore and gift shops around the airport. Passengers can purchase a snack, magazine, book, or travel kit to donate (but any item from these stores is welcome, including children’s items). These donations stay right in the airport, delivered multiple times each week to the USO. If you like a certain kind of chips, buy two bags and share something you love with a servicemember. It’s not very common to participate in donations that go directly to the recipient like this.
The approximately 1,500 visitors to the USO center at the Dayton International Airport are met with a comfortable place to land while waiting on flights and free snacks, drinks, and meals to keep them fueled for their travels. All of this wouldn’t be possible without the help of gracious volunteers, helpful airport staff, and donations from passengers like you. Next time you’re in the airport, you’ll pass by the USO knowing exactly what they’re doing to help our servicemen and women in the United States Armed Forces.