By: Sloan Gibson, USO President
Note: This post is part of a weeklong celebration of U.S. military veterans. You can find more stories and resources at the Microsoft Citizenship website.
Your USO works to lift to the spirits of America’s troops and their families. When assessing how well we fulfill that mission, we ask, “Who needs us most?”
Clearly those who are serving in harm’s way – at small forward operating bases in harsh, dangerous conditions – are on that list. Here at home, their families, many experiencing their third or fourth deployment, are not just missing their loved one, but worrying about their family member’s safe return. They need us, too.
Recently, I attended a Dignified Transfer at Dover Air Force Base. A young soldier killed in Iraq was returning home for the last time. I stood on the tarmac in the early evening with his mother, grandmother, and sister as the flag-draped case was reverently carried from the plane. That very morning, they had answered the knock at the door every family prays will never come. Can we ever repay our debt to that family?
So, too, our wounded warriors and their families have paid a high price in body and soul. Their lives have been turned upside down. They will never be the same again. We owe them our very best.
One of the great challenges confronting all of us as Americans is the need to help our troops and their families deal with the stresses of the combat deployments. You have seen the news accounts of record numbers of suicides among those in uniform and veterans. It is our duty to conform and support these men and women who have served us so honorably.
Healing from the wounds of war is not just a physical process. In fact, in many respects, the mental and emotional challenges are the most daunting. The goal is to inspire all wounded warriors to get back into life – to realize that they are limited only by their imagination and their willingness to commit to the hard work to achieve any goal.
The USO, approaching its 70th year, is uniquely positioned to establish a first-class support network to help care for America’s wounded warriors. Under USO Wounded Warriors, the USO is building a community of care to help meet the non-medical needs these troops and families have from the time of their evacuation from the battlefield until their return to communities across the country prepared for a happy and full life.
Through USO Wounded Warriors, wounded warriors and their families will have access to:
- Physical and recreational activities
- Mental health support
- Family strengthening information
- Education and employment opportunities
- Community reintegration support information
Your USO will always be there to support troops and their families that need us. Can we ever do enough to help these heroes and their families have every chance at a full and complete life. We hope you will join us today as we try.
Please visit our website www.USO.org/WoundedWarriors to learn more.
Sloan Gibson, USO President
Some recent stories from the USO:
More veterans resources: