UNITED SERVICE ORGANIZATIONS
The USO Mission is to enhance the quality of life of the personnel within U.S. Armed Forces military communities and to create partnership between U.S. military and civilian communities worldwide.
In 1941 President Franklin D. Roosevelt requested that six organizations provide on-leave recreation for U.S. Armed Forces. The Salvation Army, YMCA, YWCA, National Catholic Community Services, National Jewish Welfare Board and the National Travelers’ Aid Association coordinated to form USO (United Service Organizations). Despite the conflicts and uncertainty of decades that followed, USO has endured and continues to provide "a touch of home" for U.S. Armed Forces and their families. The USO is a private, non-profit, civilian organization, which works in cooperation with the military community to provide service to military personnel and their families.
During WWII, USO provided services to troops and adopted a critical role for community participation in the war effort. USO facilities were found everywhere: churches, log cabins, museums, barns, and even railroad cars. At its high point in 1944, the USO had over 3,000 clubs. The USO was many things to many people: a lively place to dance and meet people, see movies, have free coffee and donuts, write letters or just relax. USO all but disbanded in 1947, and then resurfaced during the Korean War when the Department of Defense required expansion of troops around the globe – so USO increased its services too. Despite the uncertainty and opposition service members saw during the Korean and Vietnam wars, USO continued to assist Americans who were far from home in dangerous locations. During the Vietnam era 17 centers were opened in Vietnam and 6 in Thailand, serving as many as a million customers a month. Bob Hope took his USO Christmas show to Vietnam for the first time in 1964.
The 70s and 80s called for new USO peacetime services, and the increasing need to aid personnel and their families. During this time USO expanded services to reflect the inclusion of women in the military and the growing number of career military families.
Today, USO operates 170 centers worldwide to support more than 1.4 million military personnel and their family members. Despite changes, the U.S. Military and USO will face in the coming decades, USO will continue to prove the dependable support and services that military member have grown accustomed to. In times of peace, war, economic difficulty and loneliness, the USO will always be a place every military man and woman can call home.