As members of the FSLC we recognize our collective obligation to give back in the communities in which we live and serve. This year we have committed to support the USO’s Warrior and Family Care programs helping those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom. We need your help. USO’s support of wounded, ill and injured troops, their families and caregivers has expanded to encompass many critical facets of life, including physical and recreational activities, behavioral health, family strengthening, education and employment training, and community reintegration. Together, FSLC members can make a positive and lasting impact. From now through May 2013, FSLC will be supporting these programs with donations. We ask that you make your tax deductible donation that will go directly to supporting our healing heroes. Your support will be recognized at the 2013 FSLC Spring Meeting.
Checks should made payable to USO. Donations are tax-deductible and can be sent to:
Michael W. Spinelli
Cashin Spinelli & Ferretti, LLC.
801 Motor Parkway
Hauppauge, NY 11788
Donations can also be made directly to the USO by going to http://FSLC.kintera.org/
You can learn more about the USO’s Warrior and Family Care programs at http://www.uso.org/warriorandfamilycare
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Mission of the USO
The USO's mission to lift the spirits of America's troops and families has not changed since our founding in 1941, but the challenges facing our men and women in uniform and their families continue to evolve and the USO continues to adapt to meet their needs.
About the USO’s Warrior and Family Care programs
A constant since World War II has been the USO’s support for healing heroes during and after major conflicts. Over the past decade, the widespread use of body armor, rapid evacuation from the battlefield, and advances in military medicine resulted in many more troops surviving injuries that would have been fatal in past conflicts.
As a result, the numbers of wounded are quite large. More than 40,000 troops have been visibly wounded in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and some estimate more than 300,000 troops suffer from invisible wounds, such as post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injury. These wounded, ill and injured service men and women and their families face many difficult challenges upon their return, and the USO is doing all we can to sustain their hope for the happy and fulfilling future they so richly deserve. As such, the USO has developed a comprehensive long-term program, USO Warrior and Family Care, to support the continuum of care that will give these warriors the best chance for healing with honor, and provide the support their families and caregivers so urgently need.
As the first wounded troops began to come home in the earliest days of the war in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, many USO Centers near major military medical facilities, stepped in to support those men and women and their families. Since then, our volunteers and staff have provided a caring and compassionate presence at a time when emotions like fear and uncertainty are all encompassing. From aiding in communication, assisting with travel and lodging arrangements, providing essential items such as toiletries and clothing to doing simple things like lending a caring ear, the USO is committed to making one of the darkest times in a family’s life as positive as it can possibly be.
The USO embedded a Center in the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility (CASF) at Fromstein Air Base in Germany in 2003 to support troops being prepped for transit to the United States. In 2008, the USO built the USO Warrior Center at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) in Germany to further its commitment to America’s wounded, ill and injured troops. Our USO teams in Europe and stateside have the expertise and resources to respond to their needs.
In addition, the USO has embarked on a fundraising campaign, Operation Enduring Care, to fund the construction of two USO Warrior and Family Centers, one at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia and the other at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland; endow these two centers, and fund USO programs to support these troops, their families and caregivers, as well as families of the fallen. Within these facets, USO Warrior and Family Care contains multiple programs and partnerships with best-in-class organizations including:
Physical Health & Recreation
Health and wellness are critical to the emotional well-being of our warrior community. It allows these men and women to return to the vigorous physical activity that was their norm prior to their injury. These men and women learn the important lesson that they can accomplish almost anything they set out to do and often share this experience with their families. Three of the important programs made possible by the USO’s partnerships with best in class organizations include:
Warrior Games: The USO collaborated with the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the US Olympic Committee to support the Warrior Games in 2012 for the third straight year. These games are an annual competitive sports event for more than 200 wounded, ill and injured athletes from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and Special Operations Command. This year we welcomed athletes from the British Armed Forces as well. Each year, the USO proudly supports the athletes who compete with their visible and invisible wounds in seven competitive sports events held at the United States Olympic Facility and the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The games are more than medals and records – they represent pride, sacrifice, courage and teamwork.
Ride 2 Recovery: The USO partners with Ride 2 Recovery to help improve the health and wellness of wounded troops through Spinning® and outdoor cycling activities. These multi-day rides are not just an opportunity for wounded, ill and injured troops to test their physical limits, but to prove they can conquer even the toughest physical and emotional challenges. The riders share the road and their life experiences with each other. Whether it is climbing a steep mountain or racing across a flat road with their bicycle adapted to fit one leg, one arm or whatever their physical challenge might be, Ride 2 Recovery participants conquer their fears and prove they are a warrior even away from the battlefield. In 2011, the USO supported six Ride 2 Recovery challenges for healing heroes along with building 9 adaptive bicycles, and providing 100 bikes to wounded, ill and injured warriors. The USO will fund additional bikes and six rides in 2012.
Rivers of Recovery: In partnership with the nonprofit organization, Rivers of Recovery, the USO offers fly fishing retreats to wounded, ill or injured female service members and couples. These excursions are more than time away from the stresses of multiple doctors’ appointments and adjusting to life as a wounded, ill or injured service member. Instructors use fly fishing to help participants bond with one another, share experiences and further their recovery. The simple act of creating a lure and catching a fish can bring couples closer and similarly break down the walls often put up by female wounded troops, who in most cases have never participated in an event only for women. In 2012, the USO will partner with Rivers of Recovery to offer six events.
Behavioral Health Programs
USO provides a continuum of care from the battlefield to the community to provide troops, families and caregivers a broad array of programs to help them throughout each stage of their recovery.
USO Centers: Immediately after 9/11/2001 and the start of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, USO Centers around the world began to play a crucial role in the recovery and reintegration of our nation’s healing heroes and their families. Through local community support, celebrity visits, field trips, concerts, dinners and other impactful events, USO staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly to ensure that all who serve and sacrifice know just how much America appreciates them. USO Centers near major military medical facilities, such as USO of Metropolitan Washington supporting the two major medical facilities in the nation’s capital, USO Europe supporting Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and USO San Antonio supporting the Brooke Army Medical Center, focus on important programs and activities designed to combat against stress and despair. Around the globe, USO Centers help healing heroes and their families reintegrate into society and their “new normal.”
Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility (CASF) USO: In April 2003, the USO embedded a USO Center right in the middle of the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility (CASF) at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. CASF USO provides a critical home-away-from-home environment for the wounded awaiting transport to the United States following medical treatment at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. Whether it is a hot meal, fresh clothing or a friendly smile, the staff and volunteers of the CASF USO let our nation’s heroes know that America is here to support them.
USO Warrior Center: For many wounded and injured warriors, Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) in Germany is the first stop in their medical evacuation back home to the United States and the first time they become aware of their wounds and the new, uncertain future that lies before them. The USO Warrior Center at Landstuhl provides a comforting shoulder to lean on in the difficult days and weeks after sustaining those injuries. During a warrior’s brief time as an outpatient at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the USO Warrior Center offers the compassion and care of home, with a comfortable “living room” style lounge furnished with reclining sofas, cable television, a fully equipped kitchen, cyber cafe, telephone stations and multiple gaming centers. The USO Warrior Center staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly to support the thousands of wounded, ill and injured who have transitioned through Germany before returning to the United States for additional medical care or rejoining their units on the battlefield after recuperating from wounds or injuries treatable at LRMC.
USO Warrior and Family Centers (Fort Belvoir, Virginia and Bethesda, Maryland): Construction of the USO Warrior and Family Center has begun adjacent to the Community Hospital at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The USO will soon begin construction of the USO Warrior and Family Center at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. These two new centers will play an integral role in the USO’s service delivery and that of other best-in-class organizations and military partners. They will join our other USO Centers worldwide in comfort and support for our nation’s military and their families by offering a caring environment where the healing that has begun can accelerate. They will be a focal point for support, a place of respite and recreation, a peaceful environment to bring families together, and an opportunity to prepare for a happy and fulfilling life ahead. Men and women wrestling with the aftermath of combat can embrace their roles as parents and spouses, and learn how to reunite as a family in the face of change. On the challenging journey toward recovery, these centers will be focal points to help build hope and confidence.
USO Caregivers Conference: The USO recognizes that caregivers of wounded, ill and injured service members play a large role in the recovery of their loved one. Caregivers are usually moms and dads, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters or best friends that are not medical professionals who put their lives on hold to provide personal care and support for their wounded loved one. At times, caregivers also need to know they are not alone during their family’s transition, and that it is okay to take a break to care for themselves. USO Caregivers Conferences address the common concerns that many families have during their recovery. Topics ranging from resiliency, compassion fatigue, sexual intimacy after injury, children’s grief, suicide and depression are just a handful of topics that subject matter experts address during our conferences. The USO has hosted four of these conferences to date, the most recent was in May in San Antonio, TX .
USO Day Rooms: When the comforts of home are not readily available, USO Dayrooms can be a temporary home or respite for the wounded, families and medical support staff. USO Day Rooms are located at military hospitals, medical facilities, and Warrior Transition Units throughout the U.S. and overseas. Each of the rooms is equipped with TVs, furniture, gaming systems, refrigerators and other comfort necessities.
Behavioral Health Initiative: The USO, in collaboration with the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury and TriWest Healthcare Alliance, launched a pilot program at four centers in an effort to raise awareness of available resources for troops and families under stress. The USO’s role in supporting these challenges is to aid in early intervention efforts and suicide prevention through identifying, engaging, and supporting. In July 2010, the initiative was expanded throughout TriWest’s territory. In October 2010, a pilot program was launched with Health Net to include USO centers on the East Coast. Plans to expand within the USO and overseas are underway.
Family Strengthening Programs
Family strengthening programs focus on an extraordinary group of unknown heroes – the selfless family members and caregivers who watch over our nation’s wounded, ill and injured warriors, and the families of the fallen.
Taking Care of You: Entertainer and educator Trevor Romain and his foundation, The Trevor Romain Foundation, have teamed up with USO to support military children who are dealing with a variety of challenges. “Taking Care of You” kits are distributed to children of wounded, ill, or injured troops. In 2012, Romain will distribute 7,000 kits to USO Centers as he tours military installations worldwide. Tour stops will include visits with active duty parents who are wounded, ill, or injured, helping them relate to their children as they both begin to live in their “new normal.”
Moved up NMFA Healing Adventures Retreats for Wounded Warrior Families: The USO partners with the National Military Family Association Healing Adventures Camps to bring together families who have a parent who is wounded, ill or injured to participate in a four-day camp experience. Each camp focuses on activities and seminars for families to “learn to play together” after a difficult and long recovery process. Three Healing Adventures Retreats were held in 2012.
USO and Armed Services YMCA: Together the USO and Armed Services YMCA are sending 50 families from the Ft Riley, KS area with a parent who is wounded, ill or injured to a three-day two night camp. Families participate in traditional outdoor camp activities, but at the core is the opportunity for these families to meet one another and to learn from each other’s experiences in a fun and safe environment.
Support for Families of the Fallen: The USO is committed to supporting the families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Through our partnerships with organizations such as Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) and Fisher House, as well as support offered at USO Centers located throughout the United States, the USO supports families of the fallen by providing respite and comfort to grieving families who are welcoming home their loved one for the last time. We have supported every dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base since March 1991. USO Centers are located in the heart of Dover Air Force Base as well as inside the Air Force Mortuary Affairs complex. The USO also supports the operations of the Fisher House for Families of the Fallen, where families can stay as they await the arrival of their loved ones. Additionally, the USO works 24/7 to coordinate with USO Centers across the country to support and comfort families traveling to and from Dover, meeting the myriad needs of those who have just received tragic news about their loved ones only hours earlier. Fallen heroes can arrive at Dover at any time. No matter what the hour, the USO will continue to be there for every flight.
TAPS Good Grief Camps and Spouse Seminars: The USO, in partnership with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), will host grief camps throughout 2012 for families of the fallen. Good Grief Camps provide children and teenagers with a safe and supportive atmosphere to participate in activities, learn grief coping skills, establish and identify support systems, and create awareness that they are not alone in the grief of their loved one. To date, we have hosted six Good Grief Camps and Spouse Seminars for 676 family members.
USO/TAPS Kids Camp Outs: These outdoor/overnight camps are three day, two night camps that allow children to come together without their parent or guardian and be with other kids who have experienced a similar loss and learn that they are not alone. They are guided through many facilitated grief activities that help them cope with their loss, share their story, honor their loved one and learn skills to move forward. The children also participate in typical camping activities that they may otherwise not be exposed to such as fishing, hiking, swimming, bonfires, and other outdoor/camping experiences. Military presence in the form of mentors and static displays are at the camp to let the children know that they are not forgotten in the military community. Additionally, each child is assigned a TAPS trained military mentor who acts as their big brother/big sister for the weekend and lets them know that the military will always supports them.
Stronger Families – Oxygen Couples Seminars: The USO/Oxygen program is designed to help wounded, injured, or ill couples strengthen their relationship and work on tough issues in a fun and non-threatening environment. Couples learn how to improve their communication, better understand each other’s needs, resolve conflict, rekindle romance and find renewed hope. With the assistance of the Army’s Warrior Transition Command, Navy Safe Harbor and the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment, the USO hosted nine couples workshops throughout the country in 2012.
Education, Employment and Community Reintegration
These programs support wounded, ill and injured troops and their families as they transition into the civilian workforce. Veteran unemployment can be dramatically reduced by knowledge and opportunity while building self-esteem.
Career Opportunity Days: The USO, in collaboration with Hire Heroes USA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, offers Career Opportunity Days (CODs) for wounded, ill and injured troops, spouses and caregivers. A COD is a non-traditional career fair where each employer connects with 7-10 troops based on interest and background. Employers conduct mock interviews and provide feedback. The use of mock interviews provides an additional level of support for transitioning service members to meet with employers offering positions. In 2011, six CODs were held with nearly 300 attendees. Of the attendees, 31 received job offers and 10 were confirmed hires. These CODs are limited to 25 employers and 75 service men and women attendees to ensure the size and magnitude of these events does not overwhelm the troops. Career fairs are overwhelming to most people in general, and many of these men and women have anxiety as a result of post-traumatic stress, so it is our goal to ensure their experience is positive and impactful. Fourteen Career Opportunity Days were offered in 2012.
USO /Hire Heroes USA Workshops: The USO, in partnership with Hire Heroes USA, hosts transition workshops for wounded, ill and injured troops, their spouses, and caregivers. The workshops are led by OEF/OIF veterans, including some who were wounded themselves. Hire Heroes USA focuses on resume writing, interview skills, professional work practices and translating prior military experience into a civilian career. The USO and Hire Heroes USA hosted workshops at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia and Fort Carson, Colorado in 2011. Twenty-two workshops were held in 2012 and Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune in North Carolina were added to our list of workshop locations. These workshops complement the existing transition assistance offered by the military, Department of Defense and Department of Labor to provide yet another tool in the toolbox for transitioning service members. Employers attend these workshops and conduct mock interviews to provide a civilian perspective on what employers are looking for in new employees.
Purpose Driven Rehab: In collaboration with Pros vs. GI Joes, a nonprofit organization, the USO supported 20 Purpose Driven Rehab (PDR) participants in 2012. This program offers wounded warriors an opportunity to “intern” for a career in event planning and logistics. Participants gain a sense of purpose, drive and resiliency. Warriors are given the opportunity to manage the Pro vs. GI Joe Toy Hauler RV at some of the biggest sporting events in the world, setting up gaming systems for large scale tailgates and interacting with the crowd. These events build confidence, leadership skills and support the wounded on their continued road to recovery.