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    USO Wisconsin’s presence at Fort McCoy hits 5 years; growth continues

    USO Wisconsin’s presence at Fort McCoy hits 5 years; growth continues

    Photo By Scott Sturkol | USO Wisconsin volunteer Judy Adank helps a service member Aug. 5, 2021, at the USO...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office           

    For five years, USO Wisconsin has continued to expand its presence and support for thousands of service members, families, military retirees, and others every year at Fort McCoy, said Elizabeth Hazlett, operations and program manager for USO Wisconsin.

    In 2016, Hazlett said, she spent several months on post to evaluate the possibility of establishing operations at Fort McCoy during the busiest training months. She said they found a real need for supporting transient training troops at the installation, which number in the tens of thousands at the installation annually.

    “The USO mission is to support our active-duty military as well as National Guard and Reserve service members,” Hazlett said. “Fort McCoy is no exception. As one of the key training areas, especially for National Guard and Reserve troops, we found that supporting these groups at Fort McCoy was a great way to address the gap in their support. The USO has a role to play with the military at Fort McCoy. Our Fort McCoy memorandum of understanding (MOU) along with the Army MOU and our Congressional charter provides us with the authority to reach them even in combat areas, around the globe, and at home.”

    “Most important is our ability to reach the troops directly while at the post, demonstrating we can improve retention numbers while not impacting the integrity of the training in any way,” Hazlett said. “When the USO serves the command groups alongside the enlisted members, we break down barriers and create a better military, I believe. The military is more likely to seek support from the USO for other things, like permanent-change-of-station (PCS) support when it is needed, because they respect and trust us. Our troops need to know the American people are behind them when they risk their lives and return home.

    In addition to supporting all military members, the USO also supports the legal dependents of service members, Hazlett said. “We also support Gold Star families and retirees from all branches of the military,” she said.

    Hazlett said the support includes a full cycle, starting with training needs and deployments to Yellow Ribbon events; welcome-home celebrations; PCS; and morale, welfare, and recreation (MWR) needs.

    “Our most requested services are our mobile support units for the Fort McCoy and related training areas,” Hazlett said. “This can either be the USO van or our mobile Wi-Fi support vehicle, which offers two hours of internet for troops training in the cantonment area. These two services are unique to the USO at Fort McCoy and are not part of the regular lineup of services at other U.S.-based USO facilities.”

    The Fort McCoy USO office is located in building 1501 on the cantonment area. Hazlett said there’s always something happening with USO events and opportunities.

    “Each month, military members and their families can take part in several events offered by the USO — whether virtual programs or in-person events,” Hazlett said. “Seasonally, we offer at least one family event. On site, we offer board games, DVD movies, sporting equipment, and Wi-Fi service with unsecured computers. Items can be borrowed for up to three days for self-directed MWR time. In the fall of this year, we plan to expand our services to include local attraction information and discount tickets.”

    Continued success at Fort McCoy’s USO operations is also because of the volunteers who support the organization, Hazlett said.

    “Volunteers are needed to help the USO plan and host events and operate our centers,” Hazlett said. “The USO Center at the La Crosse Airport always needs staffing, which is one place that youth ages 15 1/2 and older can get volunteer experience. Volunteers ages 16 and up can help at the USO at Fort McCoy. All it takes is a willingness to be available for at least two hours a week. Volunteers need access to a computer and basic skills. We offer a phone app that lets you schedule shifts, sign up for event opportunities, and stay informed on USO news.”

    Hazlett said volunteers also can earn credit for graduation from high school or college, as well as have volunteer internship opportunities to explore a job category within the USO — all while giving back.

    “Military volunteers can possibly earn a Volunteer Service Medal for supporting USO activities as well,” Hazlett said.

    Operating hours for the USO office at Fort McCoy are10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday from April 15 to Aug. 30 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday to Saturday from Sept. 1 to April 14.

    For more information about the USO at Fort McCoy stop by building 1501 or call 414-477-7279.

    USO Wisconsin Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. It currently operates six centers in Wisconsin that serve more than 25,000 military families throughout the state.

    (Article prepared by the Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office and USO Wisconsin.)



    Date Taken: 08.10.2021
    Date Posted: 08.10.2021 15:13
    Story ID: 402788
    Location: FORT MCCOY, WI, US 

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