Thursday, August 5, 2010
Expressing her thanks to the USO’s 65 years of service to America’s armed forces, Hanft lauded the organization’s efforts to ensure ‘‘a part of America is always with our Sailors, Soldiers, Marines, Airmen and Guardsmen, no matter where they are.
‘‘Either in the damp tropics, the icy temperatures of northern climates, the arid deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan, or even on a hot summer day right here in Dahlgren,” Hanft said, ‘‘the USO has meant a home to the homesick, a place of warm and friendly faces where lonely servicemen and women will always find comfort.”
Miss Virginia for 2010, Caitlin Uze, was on hand as USO’s celebrity guest to take part in the opening ceremony at Dahlgren, which was attended by nearly 100 military personnel and civilian employees from the base, along with other invited guests.
‘‘All of America understands that because of what you do, we enjoy the freedom we have today,” said Uze in expressing her appreciation for the U.S. armed services.
‘‘I take every opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to our military personnel and their families for the sacrifices they make for all of us.”
‘‘The challenges our military and their families face today have never been greater,” emphasized Elaine Rogers, president of USO of Metropolitan Washington. ‘‘With this center, we hope to make a positive change in that process.
‘‘We will do it through laughter, through activities and amenities and in ways the USO is known for bringing joy into people’s lives,” Rogers said.
The Dahlgren USO Center is the newest facility operated by USO-Metro, a private non-profit organization employing nearly 5,000 volunteers to serve military personnel in Washington, D.C., Maryland and northern Virginia with five centers located on area military installations and four more at area airports.
In addition to services provided through their centers, USO-Metro provides support for welcome homes and deployments, community events, emergency housing and food assistance, and holiday programs to boost the morale of men and women in uniform.
Fashioned from a small one-story bungalow in the base’s family housing area, the Dahlgren USO Center features a TV area and movie library, reading lounge and library, computers with Internet connection and a video gaming area, with sponsors including Microsoft and Lincoln Military Housing. A food pantry is also incorporated into the center to provide assistance to military families in need.
Rogers also announced that the Dahlgren USO Center will have a ‘‘Sesame Room” added in the coming months. The room is provided through a grant from the Sesame Street Workshop project, to provide a unique enrichment area for kids.
Participants in the grand opening ceremony included an honor guard of Sailors from the Aegis Training and Readiness Center. A trio of Heather Jones, Kieva Barker and Beth Loudin, all students at King George High School, sang the National Anthem. And the invocation and blessing for the USO Center was delivered by Lt. Richard Malmstrom, chaplain for Naval Support Activity South Potomac.