USO - serving those who serve
By Mauricio Campino
/ Published January 29, 2019
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- This month, the USO will celebrate its 78th birthday. Since 1941, the USO has been committed to serving U.S. men and women in uniform, all around the globe. Located on Dover AFB, USO Delaware continually supports our service members and their families.
USO Delaware was formed on Dover AFB in March 1991, immediately following the Persian Gulf War. As support and funding for the center grew over the years, the scope of its mission expanded as well. USO Delaware now maintains two locations on the base: the passenger terminal and the Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs. A staff of three full-time employees and 206 volunteers continually strives toward fulfilling the USO mission: “Connecting service members to family, home and country.”
“When I graduated high school, my best friend joined the Army, and I just wanted give back to the military,” said Cari Matthews, USO Delaware center operations supervisor.
The Terminal Community Center, located inside the passenger terminal, is USO Delaware’s main location. Like most USO centers, it offers travel services to members and their families, as well as retirees, traveling on Space-Available flights. A home away from home, the USO serves drinks, snacks and welcoming smiles. The center is equipped with cellphone charging stations, an internet café with free Wi-Fi and entertainment in the form of large-screen televisions, DVD movies, video game consoles, books and board games.
“It’s a place they can come and relax,” said Nancy Sahrbeck, USO Delaware volunteer.
Moreover, USO Delaware has provided a lounge inside the Charles C. Carson Center for Mortuary Affairs, which serves the staffs of the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System and the Joint Personal Effects Depot. At the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the remains of fallen servicemembers, DOD civilians and contractors were arriving at Dover AFB on a daily basis; as a result, the lounge was created to offer much-needed stress relief to all who support the solemn mission of bringing home our fallen heroes. The lounge boasts the same amenities as the Terminal Community Center and is available 24 hours a day.
The support for Dover’s solemn mission does not stop there.
Through USO Delaware’s Families of the Fallen support team program, USO centers in airports across the country coordinate care for families and their military escorts as they travel to Dover for dignified transfers. Upon their arrival, USO Delaware supplies food for them at the Fisher House for Families of the Fallen. Children are provided books and reading materials to help them handle the grieving process after losing family members. Through Operation Enduring Care, military escorts traveling with the families receive complementary gym bags, replete with hygiene items and a change-of-clothes. Additionally, USO Delaware staff and volunteers brave the elements at all hours to bring comfort and nourishment to honor guard teams and mortuary staff, who serve around the clock during dignified transfers.
In 2018 alone, USO Delaware served approximately 82,000 service members and their families.
For information on how to volunteer with USO Delaware, visit https://volunteers.uso.org
To donate to USO Delaware, visit https://www.uso.org/donate/delaware