Note from the Area of Operations


One more note from an officer now traveling in the Afghan Area of Operations (AOR). Note, by the way, that during the past couple of weeks he has traveled to American airbases in Ramstein, Germany; Aviano, Italy; Al Udeid, Qatar; and Bagram, Afghanistan.

[T]he best way for Americans to directly help their military servicemen and women overseas as well as the many others serving our Nation abroad (State Department, Peace Corps, USAID, etc. — I’ve shared a meal with someone from all these organizations so far) is to donate their time and/or money to the USO. I have witnessed and benefited firsthand from the hospitality of the USO so many times in just two weeks. At the Ramstein passenger terminal, there is a free Internet cafe and all the coffee you can drink. The former is a godsend to young troops who practically live online, the latter my lifeblood: caffeine. Again, at Bagram, the USO Internet and movie lounges were both welcome respites for some very weary troops, trust me.

Here’s a good piece written by a military couple that mentions the importance of the USO and many other angles and agencies I had never thought about before: “Ten ways to support the war effort,” by Michael & Shelly Burgoyne

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  1. Profile Photo Podcaster

    Your notes, Peter, from the AOR, bring back memories.  Several times I travelled a route similar to that of the officer you reference.  A brief stop in Europe followed by flights to the Mideast, each stop progressively hotter and more Spartan than the last.  The officer is so right in that the USO provides a slice of home, some conveniences, or perhaps a way to contact loved ones, and is a real shot in the arm to those who serve.  Any donation to that organization is a tremendous investment in the troops.  The famous “care packages” are a real help too. 

    There was this one lieutenant colonel whose mother kept us supplied with Starbucks coffee all the way from Brooklyn.  For a few minutes each morning, we could pretend we were somewhere other than the “sand box.” 

    And please tell the officer that an old NCO back home thanks him and all the others who stand between us and the savages who have sworn to destroy our country. 

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  2. Profile Photo Inactive

    Great list. I would also suggest volunteering your time at a VA. I volunteered at a VA for four summers at a teenager, and it was an amazing experience. I met Veterans of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. It really gave a human face to historic events I’d only ever read about in history books or seen mentioned in movies. Most of all, it was a small way of saying “thank you” to those who had served and sacrificed four our country. There are many Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan with service connected injuries being treated at VAs all across the nation. My only letter to the editor at WashPo was suggesting this same idea. I was responding to a cliche of a DC liberal’s comments that she had tried to volunteer at Walter Reed and was turned away. This was in the aftermath of the Building 18 fiasco. She insinuated that the Army had something to hide by not letting her have any patient contact. She was just unfamiliar with the opportunities.

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  3. Profile Photo Member

    Peter, thanks for bringing that suggestion to the fore. As a recent user of various USO facilities, I must say that they are indeed a great convenience for soldiers, sailoers, airmen, and marines who are on the road. From the Pat Tillman Memorial USO at the Bagram AB passenger terminal, to smaller facilities at many airports around the United States, all USOs are greatly appreciated. It used to be all about the coffee and cookies, now it is that along with phones and internet access for talking with loved ones at home.

    Most times these individual USOs are manned by volunteers and subsist through donations (monetary or even fresh baked). While I would highly recommend donating through their website, it is also as simple as finding the USO while you are at an airport (like, say, if you are waiting on a replacement flight to Boston), and dropping an Andrew Jackson in their donation jar.

    I, for one, thank you in advance.

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  4. Profile Photo Member

    I would be remiss to mention that while donations to the USO provide great conveniences, your first donations should go to organizations with a much higher purpose. Such as the mentioned Fisher House and Wounded Warrior Project, as well as Soldiers Angels, Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, Scholarships for Military Children and Hero Miles program.

    Donate to these to help our severely injured service members and their families. Only then consider donating to the convenience of the rest of us.

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  5. Profile Photo Member
    Dave Carter:

    And please tell the officer that an old NCO back home thanks him and all the others who stand between us and the savages who have sworn to destroy our country. · Jun 25 at 10:34am

    Make that two old NCOs.

    • #5
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