Ever since I covered ’ month of May customer of items for the USO, I’ve been curious about what that organization is doing for service members in this day and age. Turns out there is much more going on than Bob Hope-style variety shows featuring scantily clad showgirls and borscht belt comics working blue.
In fact, according to Mike Teilmann, executive director of USO Greater Los Angeles Area, 70 percent of the organization’s resources are devoted to hospitality services at airports around the world. They serve active duty and retired troops travelling to deployments or those just on the way to vacations.
For soldiers in the field United Service Organization provides all the amenities of home only set up in tents. Forward deployed troops may receive “USO in a Box” delivered by helicopter or truck. A 250 square foot Tactical Operations Center can go up in 20 minutes, giving up to 20 soldiers at a time access to two rugged laptops, four flat screen televisions, a DVD player, Voice Over Internet Phone, three Xbox® 360 gaming systems, Guitar Hero® and surround sound. In remote and restricted areas “USO2GO” provides all that plus everything from phone cards to bean bag chairs, musical instruments and art supplies packed into in boxed kits.
There wasn’t too much traffic at the Bob Hope USO at LAX right under Encounters restaurant the day I went down there, but you can see Teilmann’s pix of some of the busier days in our photo gallery. He told me last week they had 122 GIs staying in the 4,000 square foot space overnight.
USO is entirely funded by private donors. In addition to Flair Cleaners, the Los Angeles area operation receives support from Northrop Grumman and Farmer’s Insurance. World sponsors include AT&T and Coca Cola.