FORT BENNING, Ga. (WRBL) – Today, April 12, Fort Benning and the United Services Organization held a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate a new chapter on post.
USO is a voluntary organization that has provided entertainment and other services to soldiers and their families since 1941. Now, they’re bringing their mission to Fort Benning, the latest USO center of more than 250 already operating around the world.
The ceremony introduced a new home away from home that will be enjoyed by the 40,000 men, women, and families on post, something Maj. Gen. Patrick Donahoe says means the world to soldiers.
“This is a place to come and be met with a friendly face, a great smile, a decent cup of coffee and maybe a snack. That means the world to soldiers,” Gen Donahoe shares.
The Center Operations Manager for USO Fort Benning tells News 3 how the program supports service members and families.
“While the USO is a home away from home for service members while they’re overseas, it also becomes that for them here stateside and on Fort Benning when they’re away from their families or they may not have a family to go home to,” Sarah Bostic shares.
The center is meant for everyone, starting with those who have just joined the military, to someone who is about to retire and anywhere in between.
President of the USO Southeast says USO Centers are used to boost morale and support soldiers and their families.
“We’re going to have games here. We’re going to have events and programs that really help with resiliency. We’re going to have programs that help family members get to know each other, and get to know each other when we come back from deployments,” Jim Whaley explains.
The new USO center is set to be a place for service members and their families to attend special programs, enjoy a lounge with internet connectivity, drinks and snacks, as well as various forms of entertainment including board games, video games, TV, and books.
Whaley says Gen. Donahoe was instrumental in pushing for the renovation of the old Wells Fargo Bank on Fort Benning.
Gen. Donahoe says the location is optimal, being in the central part of post near the three barracks, the IHG Army Hotel, the officer candidate school, and more where transient soldiers and families congregate already.
“This this is all walking distance of that it just makes perfect sense to put the volunteer organization that is focused on, you know, providing services and care to soldiers and families right here where they’re going to be walking anyway,” Gen. Donahoe tells News 3.
He also believes the new USO center will be transformative for Fort Benning, and is expected to open in about six to seven months.