The United Service Organization better known as the USO serves members of the U.S. military by providing various types of moral boosting services.
At Yuma Proving Ground (YPG), the local USO organization worked with the Military Free Fall (MFF) School to provide a comfort room for their students.
The MFF school is part of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School based out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and is located on the YPG installation because the dry weather in Yuma is idea for year-round jumping. The courses run anywhere from three to four weeks. While three to four weeks might not seem like a long time, it can feel long if a student is mainly confined to their room.
“They are jumping from a perfectly good airplane, free falling at 125 miles per hour and we are asking them to go back to their barracks room that has no Wi-Fi and minimal amenities,” explains Tech Sgt. Jessica Soto who serves as the military training leader flight chief for the MFF School.
Many students who attend the school are housed in barracks and don’t typically come with vehicles. Combine that with YPG’s remote location and it makes for some very long weeks inside their barrack room.
“When I got here I thought, “What can I do to give them a space to decompress?’”
Soto enlisted the help of the local USO chapter and together they created the comfort room. The MFF School provided the space and the USO provided the amenities. The multi-room comfort area is a mix between a living room, game room, and kitchen. As students enter the space they will find a living room setup with a television (TV) and a coffee bar. The adjoining rooms have a foosball, Ping-Pong and pool table. The second living room has four play stations, a flat screen TV’s and Wi-Fi.
“This place gives a space for the students to decompress after long jump days or for them to use on weekends.”
During the worldwide shutdown this space is where students could go to not feel isolated.
“During COVID everything was closed, the gym was closed, the pool was closed. There was nothing for the students to do outside of training.”
The comfort area is equipped with a lot of counter space and a large dining table. During the COVID Thanksgiving this area provided some normalcy for more than 200 students.
“The Military Free Fall was able to host an entire thanksgiving meal for the students. The whole counter was full of food.”
Soto says students appreciate the room and they all appreciate the USO for their support.