My very last "non-airport waiting room" experience in the Middle East was relaxing in an USO lounge pounding down Girl Scout cookies like a man exiled to Afghanistan for the last four and a half months. I sat captivated by Sky News which was on the television. It was the first time I was able to watch television not provided by Armed Forces Network (AFN) which does not show commercial but instead has public service announcements (don't drink and drive, don't abuse your wife/significant others/be sure to reenlist or join the reserves!). As a thank you I picked up the messy lounge before I left.
The truly touching thing the USO did was welcome me back. I was on a flight full of soldiers who were heading back from Iraq, Afghanistan, and service in Europe. As I exited customs I was swarmed by a legion of USO volunteers who passed me free stuff and thanked me for helping my country. It is a truly humbling thing to be saluted by a veteran in a wheel chair. That was something I was not emotionally ready for and I feel that I did not deserve. However, it is great to know there are people out there who remember service members.
So I want to say "thank you" USO. I am also adding the USO to my list of favored charities. I personally saw countless soldiers use USO phone cards, internet terminals, airport lounges, care packages of tooth brushes and tooth paste, and coffee while I was deployed.
Thank you, USO.