By Michelle Butzgy/ParaglideApril 8, 2011
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - When you ask a servicemember what they think about the United Service Organization, he or she usually tell a story about what a great time they had when they stopped at a USO Center in-between flights for their next assignment. Now Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Coast Guard, Marines and their Families can add Fayetteville Regional Airport USO as their favorite stop before deploying overseas or coming home.
Renee Lane, USO of North Carolina, Fort Bragg Center director and Bev Jackson, assistant director of the center made it their goal to start up the center at the airport.
"Out of all the airport locations in North Carolina, why not Fayetteville' This is where the troops are," said Lane.
"There's a great need," added Jackson. "The airport staff had made a few signs to direct military members where to go. They weren't satisfied with that, they wanted somebody there who had a relationship with (Fort Bragg)."
Lane and Jackson went to meet Brad Whited, Fayetteville Regional Airport director and Toney Coleman, assistant director, in early July 2010.
"We're looking forward to the USO coming to the Fayetteville Regional Airport," said Whited.
The space donated by the airport is 900 square feet. "It faces the runway and is very bright and sunny, which is a very positive, inviting experience," said Lane. "People can watch the planes take off and land." Anyone with a military ID and a boarding pass will be able to access the USO, added Lane.
"Fort Bragg is one of the most important jewels in the USO crown," said John Falkenbury, president and chief operating officer of the USO of N.C.
"We will continue to provide the first-class, troop and Family-focused service we're known for at our Fort Bragg center, and we'll continue that service to the travel center to make the lives of our men and women in uniform a little better."
The future center will become a reality mid summer thanks to a $35,000 grant from the Cannon Foundation, said Lane. The USO plans to have a snack bar, a television with a DVD, Internet access and telephones. Enterprise Rent-A-Car also donated money towards a children's corner with board games, seats and a television with a DVD player.
"We want a place for military Families to relax," said Jackson. "It's very stressful to say hello or good-bye when someone is on deployment. We need a place there for Families to relax, feel like they're being taken care of. As that servicemember leaves, they know that their Family is being taken care of by the community."
As for those who wish to volunteer at the new USO, Lane said plenty have stepped up but they can always use more.
"We thought it would be a great idea to involve military associations," said Lane. "Their members tend to be retirees. It helps us a great deal to have their experience as a prior servicemember or a Family member to know what these Soldiers and Airmen are going through. We know that our volunteers, whether it's at Fort Bragg or at our events or elsewhere, they are first and foremost a USO volunteer," she said.
For more information about the USO of North Carolina, contact Lane at 495-1437/1439 or by e-mail at email@example.com.