ARLINGTON, Va., May 20, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The mission of our nation's military is constantly changing—whether serving on the front lines of pandemic relief efforts, helping communities recover from natural disasters or deploying overseas to deter threats to our country. The United Service Organizations (USO) is there to support service members whenever they are on the move with the announcement of its new Mission on the Move initiative.
To highlight the military's round-the-clock support and offer Americans a way to actively express gratitude, Mission on the Move will serve as an online storytelling initiative as part of the USO's yearlong Give More Than Thanks campaign. Through stories posted on USO social media channels and updates on USO.org/MoreThanThanks during May and throughout the summer, Mission on the Move will shed light on the many ways the USO supports the U.S. Armed Forces beyond traditional brick-and-mortar locations.
The new initiative is a continuation of the organization's 80-year history of accompanying men and women in uniform and their families, wherever service takes them. From the most remote locations in the U.S. and overseas, the USO is always by their side.
"The heart of the USO's mission is to ensure service members are never alone," said Christopher Plamp, senior vice president of operations, programs, and entertainment at the USO. "When the pandemic prevented us from serving in person, the USO innovated new ways to virtually foster the spirit of connectedness. As we look forward to a post-pandemic future, we are proud to continue our tradition of bringing the USO directly to the military—both remotely and in person—no matter the time or place."
Mission on the Move highlights will include:
Mobile USO: Mobile USO vehicles travel to events and military exercises to provide a place for service members to relax during downtime. Equipped with food preparation areas, Wi-Fi, TVs, gaming stations and outdoor activities, Mobile USOs service areas without physical USO centers to support service members who are rapidly deployed and on military exercises. These USO centers on wheels provide a welcoming haven to military members on remote missions.
Care Packages: USO Care Packages provide service members with snacks and toiletries in a durable pouch that can be attached to most military-issued gear. The Toiletry Pack includes travel-sized hygiene products, while the Snack Pack has healthy treats to fuel busy troops. More than 3 million care packages have been delivered over the last several years.
USO2GO: These are essentially USO centers that can be delivered to military units stationed in remote locations around the world where there are is no USO presence. USO20 kits include toiletries, snacks and other necessities that offer our men and women in uniform some comforts of home. More than 2,400 USO2GO kits have been delivered since the program began.
Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program: The USO has partnered with the Bob Hope Legacy to bring military families together through virtual, on-demand story time. Service members are invited to record themselves reading their child's favorite book and have that recording available for loved ones to download. In turn, military kids can select a book to read for their deployed parent. More than 25,000 military families will be connected through reading in 2021.
USO Gaming: Online and in-person gaming events are held around the world for service members and their families to bond over the challenges of digital competition. Gaming presents an opportunity for communities to form and engage through such platforms as Twitch and Discord. In 2021, the USO will be expanding upon the successful program to include monthly sponsored community events, livestreaming, and fundraising elements.
Operation Phone Home®: This popular program provides free wireless connections, computer access, high-speed internet, and free international phone calls for those deployed overseas. These offerings allow troops to connect with family and friends in a safe, relaxing environment without having to worry about bad connections or expensive phone bills.
USO Special Delivery Presented by Johnson & Johnson: In-person and virtual baby showers are held in honor of expectant military families who may be away from home during most of a pregnancy. Usually conducted in USO centers, each shower features games, local guest speakers and drawings for traditional baby shower gifts. More than 13,000 parents-to-be have participated in the program since its launch in 2013. A highlight from this year was USO Global Ambassador Wilmer Valderrama joining a recent Special Delivery with his new child.
Entertainment Programming: The USO continues to provide entertainment programming worldwide through its Military Virtual Programming (MVP) sessions, which offer the military community opportunities to connect with celebrities and performers remotely. To date, the program has hosted more than 125 events featuring more than 150 celebrities. In 2021, the USO will participate in on-installation, in-person entertainment pending local, state, and federal Covid-19 guidelines.
USO Support Across the Globe: Mission on the Move will spotlight USO support at Defender Europe 21, a U.S. Army-led training exercise focused on bolstering interoperability and operational readiness among NATO allies and partners. The Mission on the Move initiative will also offer a glimpse of USO Pacific programming in Asia and training exercises across the American Midwest.
While there are several ways Americans can give more than thanks to service members during Military Appreciation Month in May, the USO invites the public to show their gratitude by donating $29 or more to receive their "Official Uniform of the Military Supporter." This year's limited-edition T-shirt was voted on by American service members around the world. Funds raised will help the USO continue providing essential support for the U.S. military throughout their journey. To donate and receive a T-shirt, visit USO.org/Tshirt.
From service members deployed on ships who have been grappling with the challenges of COVID-19 while far from their families and friends to troops training in remote parts of the country, the USO is committed to meeting service members where they are.
For Mission on the Move updates and additional ways to give more than thanks to service members, visit USO.org/MoreThanThanks and join the conversation using #MoreThanThanks on social media.
About the USO: The USO strengthens America's military service members by keeping them connected to family, home, and country, throughout their service to the nation. At hundreds of locations worldwide, we are united in our commitment to connect our service members and their families through countless acts of caring, comfort, and support. The USO is a private nonprofit organization, not a government agency. Our programs, services and entertainment tours are made possible by the American people, support of our corporate partners and the dedication of our volunteers and staff. To join us in this important mission and learn more about the USO, please visit USO.org or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.