By Lisa R. RhodesJanuary 22, 2013
The installation celebrated the formal opening of its new USO-Metro Fort Meade Center on Tuesday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and reception attended by more than 400 people.
"This is a very special day," said John Marselle, chairman of the USO-Metro board of directors, in his remarks during the ceremony. "If you look at the before- and after-pictures of the new center, you'll get a chance to see how far we've come."
The 2,200-square-foot facility, located at 8612 6th Armored Cavalry Road at the corner Mapes Road, replaces the USO-Metro center in Midway Commons.
The new center, which was previously occupied by the Defense Information Systems Agency, was provided to the USO at no cost by the garrison.
The facility features a nine-seat theater room, snack bar, wireless computer space, two offices, stoveless kitchen, an outdoor patio and ample room for the organization's food pantry.
Several sponsors, including Computer Sciences Corporation, Northrop Grumman and SAIC, donated funds to cover the cost of the furniture, two televisions and a pair of gaming monitors.
The previous center, a small townhouse located at 7007A Baker St., did not provide parking for the USO-Metro clientele and was not located on a bus route.
A highlight of Tuesday's ceremony was an appearance by Stephanie McMahon, executive vice president of Creative at World Wrestling Entertainment, and David Otunga, a wrestler with WWE. Both presented Garrison Commander Col. Edward C. Rothstein with a WWE championship belt for the Soldiers at Fort Meade. McMahon and Otunga later signed autographs.
In addition, Kasey Staniszewski, Miss Maryland USA, served lunch to service members at the reception.
During the ceremony, Elaine Rogers, USO-Metro president, thanked Rothstein for securing the new facility.
"Thank you, sir, for your leadership in giving us this location," said Rogers who called the colonel "a champion for the USO and the work that we do."
Rothstein said the new center allows service members and their families to take a break from the stresses of military life. He also thanked the organization's more than 40 volunteers.
"The support is all about the volunteers," Rothstein said. "When asked how much this cost, it was zero. The cost of that building and the cost of the opportunities that are given in that building are priceless."
Maj. Gen. Michael S. Linnington, commanding general of the Joint Task Force National Capital Region, said "true to its motto, the USO-Metro lifts the spirit of National Capital Region bases, service men and women and their families" with a wide range of programs, services and entertainment.
"They are a huge hit around the world," Linnington said.
The general praised the USO-Metro staff, who "continue to extend their special touch to make all of our lives better at home and in our communities."
Gen. Keith B. Alexander, commander of U.S. Cyber Command, director of the National Security Agency and chief of the Central Security Service, also thanked the organization's volunteers.
He noted that although the military is taking important measures to decrease suicide rates among service members, the military cannot do it alone.
"How do we take care of the troops and let them know that we care? That's what the USO does," Alexander said. "They [service members] have a place to go that brings them back to home."
Alexander's wife, Debbie Alexander, also thanked the volunteers.
"Thank you for your dedication, for your support," Alexander said. "If the volunteers are not manning the desks, the doors do not open. ... When you see them [volunteers], they deserve a special pat on the back."