We're Off The Road, but Still Fueling Our Troops and Families

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Colonel Bentley and Sergeant Major Hensley of Marine Corps Quantico receive USO Care Packages.

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Mighty Military Kids Photo Contest

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Chris Weidman answers questions from service members via Zoom.

Thousands of National Guard members from Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia have been activated to join the fight against the novel coronavirus. In anticipation of a surge of COVID-19 cases, National Guard units are working hard setting up a testing site at the Washington Redskins’ FedEx Field, a field hospital at the Baltimore Convention Center and are assisting with the distribution of medical supplies.

Like millions of Americans across the country, USO-Metro employees are hunkered down in their homes working remotely, unable to interact with the service members they love to support. But as the National Capital Region’s military community is learning, you can’t keep a good team down. USO-Metro is busy adapting existing programs and creating innovative virtual activities to meet the needs of those serving on the frontlines of the pandemic and working to engage their loved ones at home.

Our Field Operations team, who normally spends most of their time on the road, are working with Senior Enlisted Advisors and Chaplains to distribute care packages to National Guard members across the region. The care packages are staged and ready for pick up at our All-Star Depot at Fort Belvoir.

Coordinating directly with Marine Corps Quantico’s base commander, Colonel Bentley, USO Quantico West’s team is working with our corporate partner Mission BBQ to deliver hot meals to service members confined to their barracks. Although we cannot personally hand each of them a Pulled Pork Sandwich with Maggie’s Mac-N-Cheese, seeing the photos of these deliveries helps feed our own souls.

To ensure we are helping to take the sting out of isolation, we are finding ways to entertain military families, in particular their children. Taking a page out of the USO Reading Program, our BWI Airport Lounge hosts a daily USO Storytime on Facebook live. Every weekday USO-Metro staff, volunteers and the occasional special guest read a book to restless children across the region. Washington, D.C.’s WUSA, Channel 9 reporter and military spouse, Laura Giller, was so touched by the daily readings that she featured the program during her evening news broadcast.

Our USO Fort Meade is celebrating April’s Month of the Military Child by launching a Mighty Military Kid Photo Contest. Military children send a photo of themselves wearing their favorite Super Hero costume while striking a mighty pose. Each child will receive a personalized Comic Strip Book at the end of the program.

For wounded, ill and injured service members and caregivers receiving treatments at Walter Reed National Medical Center Bethesda and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, our Resiliency team continue to provide critical programming virtually. Using Zoom and YouTube, they are offering programs such as Song Writing, Open Art, Music Lessons and Fitness Classes. In addition, our Transition team has not skipped a beat and continue to provide online workshops and networking opportunities such as Coffee Connections.

Finally, true to USO’s roots, thanks to our corporate partner Monster, USO-Metro has facilitated live questions and answer sessions with UFC Fighters Chris Weidman and Tyron Woodley. The Warrior and Family Center at Bethesda also arranged for New Amsterdam actor, Jocko Sims, to record a thank you video to those serving at NSA Bethesda, home to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

All of us at USO-Metro are virtually standing by the side of our troops and their families. We are so grateful to be able to continue to serve them during this difficult time in our nation’s history.

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