WIESBADEN, Germany - Everyone knows travel can be a grueling experience.
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Having a welcoming place to relax, communicate with friends via the Internet and enjoy a hot cup of coffee can ease the stress of moving from one place to another. That's exactly what service members and their families have come to expect at the Frankfurt International Airport, thanks to the Rhein Main Area USO.
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"We've come a long way as far as our USO here," said Fred Jeter, Rhein Main Area USO director, during an opening ceremony for the newly renovated Frankfurt Airport USO May 26.
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Jeter was referring to the Frankfurt Airport USO having opened in 1972 and then moving temporarily into a container outside the arrival hall in September 2008 for 19 months while renovations were in progress to upgrade the center inside the Terminal C arrival hall.
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During the renovation period, the USO director said about 52,000 people were served from the container.
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"We are very happy to have the renovation behind us to better serve our customers in the future and provide a home away from home for those in transit serving our country," he said.
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The newly renovated facility, which features six Internet-capable computers, television, reading materials, snacks, beverages and comfortable seating also offers travelers the opportunity to make shuttle reservations, sign up for twice weekly Frankfurt city tours and ask for assistance from the staff if needed.
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"It's a big change ... it's nice," said longtime USO information specialist Earl Black. Having served with the USO for more than 25 years, Black said service members and their families should appreciate the new surroundings and computer access.
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"For 69 years the USO mission has been to support U.S. troops and their families wherever they serve, across the United States and around the world," said Jeter. "The newly renovated center today allows us to better meet our mission."
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"This will make a big difference for us," said Sharon O'Neill, Frankfurt Airport USO center manager, explaining that in the time the USO was located in the outside container, she and volunteers would frequently wander through the airport looking for military travelers unable to find the USO and seeking assistance. Being back inside the terminal will make the USO easier to find for arriving passengers, she said.
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Jeter added the Frankfurt Airport (Fraport) management was very supportive of the renovation project, having provided the temporary container for the USO and overseeing the upgrades to the newly opened center. He also thanked USAA for their corporate support of the project.

Page last updated Tue June 8th, 2010 at 05:42