Leaders from the Maneuver Center of Excellence and United Service Organizations representatives hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking, April 12, to mark the first day of construction of the new USO center at Fort Benning.
The establishment of the new USO center was carefully coordinated between Maneuver Center of Excellence leadership and the USO and will provide programs and services to over 40,000 active duty service members and their families who call Fort Benning home.
Maj. Gen. Patrick J. Donahoe, commanding general, Maneuver Center of Excellence and Fort Benning, officiated the ceremony, joined by Jim Whaley, USO president, Southeast Region, and Mary Lou Austin, executive director, USO Georgia.
"This is going to transform main post Fort Benning. Just six months from now this will become the centerpiece of our main post,” said Donahoe. “It just makes perfect sense to put the volunteer organization that is focused on providing services and care to Soldiers and Families right here where they’re going to be."
The new USO center will serve as a home away from home, where service members and their families can go for special programs, offering a warm, welcoming, alcohol-free lounge; internet connectivity for guests; healthy drinks and snacks; and various forms of entertainment such as board games, video games, TV, books, and more.
“This is a very tough installation, we have a lot of schools here,” said Whaley. “We have Ranger school, we have the Infantry school, and a number of schools that put a lot of stress on young Soldiers and their Families, and we can make life a little bit easier for them.”
This USO center will also deliver additional programming during special observances and holidays throughout the year, to include a Mobile USO unit that will be stationed at Fort Benning and will travel throughout the state and across the U.S. southeast region providing USO programs and services to service members and their families.