By Reginald Rogers/ParaglideOctober 29, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - For the past six months, the Fort Bragg chapter of the United Services Organization has been under the leadership of its director, Renee Lane and her assistant, Beverly Jackson. Under the new team, the agency has continued to flourish and provide the support to Fort Bragg Soldiers that it has become well known for.
As the troops again prepare for deployments, the USO is also preparing to render the necessary support to the Soldiers and their Families here at Fort Bragg.
"During deployments, Family readiness group representatives, or Family readiness support assistants, can request care packages that we provide from the USO and that, basically, is a kit of personal hygiene items and other things that a Soldier would need for the first 48 hours after leaving Fort Bragg," Lane explained.
"Knowing that some of the Soldiers do carry their own belongings, it really helps to have something that can tie them over until they get to where they need to be," she added.
Lane pointed out that care packages could include items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo or even a pocket-sized U.S. flag, "which our ladies, who are volunteers from Benson, provide for them," she said.
Lane said units that are interested in receiving care packages for their Soldiers must request them from the USO.
"Fort Bragg is not a small post and it's impossible for us to know every FRSA on the installation," she said. "So the more the word gets out that we are here for them and to support them during times like these, we'd make their lives a lot easier."
Jackson pointed out that most of the contents of the care packages come from the local community through donations from either small groups, civic organizations or people donating money and corporations that donate thousands of items for redeployment packages, called Rack Packs.
"The USO also serves as a way to connect the military to the local community and it gives the community an opportunity to support these Soldiers here at Fort Bragg," Jackson added.
Lane said the USO has received overwhelming support from the local community as it continues to support the military community.
"It's been incredible, we've had several partners in the community, a credit union, banks, places like that, that are willing to support the effort for the Rack Pack program," she explained.
Lane said that Rack Packs are given to single Soldiers during redeployments. The packages are placed on their bunks in their barracks rooms, by FRG members.
Jackson said that the USO received more than 3,000 requests during a two-month span between April and June.
"I think somebody is getting a great benefit and not only do we get the donations from the community and that's a huge way that the community is supporting this installation, but we also get volunteers," Jackson said.
"The more people hear about these opportunities, the more people we're getting to volunteer and who have a desire just to come into the center and help. Volunteering is another way that the community gets involved with the USO."
Jackson said the USO had a good base of regular volunteers during the time that she and Lane began working there in April. She said they have become more popular in the community, as noticed on the USO North Carolina Facebook page. She said she has been contacted by more applicants who want to volunteer.
Another program the USO sponsors is the single Solider birthday cake, in which all single Soldiers identified by the BOSS program will receive a cupcake with a birthday candle to help celebrate their special day.
"We're working cooperatively with the BOSS program and they give us names of single Soldiers who may not have Family in the area and their birthday might be overlooked," Jackson explained. "We then purchase cupcakes and deliver them each month to those Soldiers."
Lane pointed out that the birthday cake program has been ongoing, but it has transferred to the USO in May. She said the event will continue to be a monthly event with the USO.
"We're going to continue to work closely with the BOSS program on this," she added.
Lane said she also wanted to let the Soldiers know that the USO's 4,000 square-foot recreation center is open to them.
"It has pool tables, ping-pong, a big movie room and Internet access," she said. "We can average about 50 to 60 people in here during daytime hours and at night we get tons of traffic in here."
The USO Fort Bragg Center is located in Building M-4226, on Goldberg St., adjacent to the Blackjack Physical Fitness Center in the 1st Theater Sustainment Command area.
For more information on the USO, please call 495-1437.