ARLINGTON, Va., Dec. 3, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The United Service Organizations (USO), whose mission is to strengthen America's military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country throughout their service to the nation, has been awarded a $3 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to support the USO's Combat COVID-19 Initiative.
"The pandemic has amplified the hardships many of our service members and their families face every day," said J.D. Crouch II, USO CEO and president. "We are honored to receive the support of Lilly Endowment as we stand together to help military families — who already sacrifice so much to protect our freedom and safety — through this challenging time."
Impacts of COVID-19 continue to present an ever-evolving landscape, and the USO remains agile and adapts quickly to ensure critical programs and services are delivered where they are needed the most. As new realities take shape, the grant from Lilly Endowment will bolster the USO's ability to focus on recovery and resilience efforts for service members and their families. In particular, the funds will help develop or expand programs that deliver food and other basic needs resources, bolster mental health services and facilitate transitions throughout the military service journey.
"Leveraging years of experience supporting service members and their families, the USO is working diligently during the pandemic to address a range of compelling needs," said Ronni Kloth, Lilly Endowment's vice president for community development. "We are pleased to support their efforts to help members of the military and their families who give so much of themselves in service to our nation during these difficult times."
The following are examples of how the funds will mitigate hardships, strengthen the military and build community:
Many military families have faced extended mobilizations and precautionary quarantines. To help service members combat feelings of isolation and connect with their loved ones during the pandemic, USO centers have created morale-boosting programming that brings both military members and their families closer. To safely keep military families connected during this time, USO Indiana modified its family programming to be delivered virtually for the first time ever, including Storytelling Monday and even a Virtual Baby Shower for the 181st Intelligence Wing of the Indiana Air National Guard stationed in Terre Haute. The grant will enable the USO to continue expanding its global offering of virtual entertainment engagements and online programming for military kids and spouses as well as help the organization explore opportunities in esports and gaming as ways to keep service members connected and entertained.
Pandemic-related business closures and hiring freezes have made it more challenging for transitioning service members and military spouses to find work. As a result, the USO is working to expand transition services to include more online experiences, such as virtual education and mentorship programs, to help prepare them for what lies ahead.
Food insecurity is another issue impacting military communities that has been exacerbated by COVID-19. While the pandemic creates a greater need for food and meal support, it also creates challenges in delivering that programming. The USO continues to adapt its center operations and processes to prepare and deliver food in different ways to ensure safety precautions and contactless delivery while also making sure military families continue to get the food they need.
Despite the ongoing challenges that the pandemic brings, the USO, with the support of Lilly Endowment, is in position to continue serving the emergent needs of the military community, at home and abroad. As a united Force Behind the Forces®, the organizations will work together to help promote a healthy, resilient, confident and prepared military.
To learn more about how the USO is helping service members and their families navigate COVID-19, visit USO.org/stories.
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 to learn more about the USO, please visit USO.org or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
About Lilly Endowment Inc.: Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders' wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion. The Endowment funds significant programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion. However, it maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.