Fort McCoy News August 08, 2014

Mobile USO Program makes stop at Fort McCoy

STORY & PHOTOS BY SCOTT T. STURKOL
Public Affairs Staff

The Mobile USO Program made a visit to Fort McCoy for two days in mid-July, setting up operations at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Liberty on the installation's North Post.

Photo 1 for USO article
Soldiers gather some snacks and refreshments from the Mobile USO Program van at Forward Operating Base Liberty on Fort McCoy's North Post.

The visit included the use of the mobile canteen van, but did not include the traveling troupe that normally accompanies the program.

"A mobile unit like this brings a little R and R (rest and relaxation) to our troops who are working hard at training at a place like Fort McCoy," said USO Center Manager Elizabeth Hazlett who coordinates all USO activities in Wisconsin.

The mobile canteen van has many features including a TV lounge for up to 12 people; a gaming area; an Internet café with Wi-Fi; a canteen that includes microwaves and a food-and-beverage area; and an exterior display area with two 46-inch TVs for movie watching along with two awnings to provide shade.

More than 800 Soldiers staying at FOB Liberty were able to make use all of the van's capabilities and have some food and refreshments during downtime in a busy training schedule.

"Having something like this is really great for all of our Soldiers here," said First Sgt. Jamie Larson of the Iowa National Guard's 186th Military Police Company of Camp Dodge.

"It's a good break from our busy operations tempo to relax, watch some TV and have some refreshments," Larson said.
Hazlett, a former Army spouse and mother of a Coast Guardsmen, said she loves supporting troops through the USO.

Photo 2 for USO article
Soldiers use the gaming area in the Mobile USO Program van during some down time after training.

"I live for this — our troops do a lot for us," Hazlett said. "They sacrifice for us, and so do their Families. Coming here and providing this van is a little something we can do for our troops and their Families."

The stop at Fort McCoy is one of many for the Mobile USO Program summer tour. Other recent stops included Camp Shelby, Miss., and Camp Roberts, Calif. Future stops include Camp Grayling, Mich., and Orchard Range, Idaho.

"Earlier this year, we saw the mobile canteen van was available for July so we got on the schedule to have it and bring it to Fort McCoy," Hazlett said. "We were very happy to get it and share it with the troops training here."

In Wisconsin, the USO has a presence mainly around Milwaukee at its downtown business office, at the Military Entrance Processing Station, and at General Mitchell International Airport.

Although the USO primarily is located in the southeast section of the state, any unit in Wisconsin can request USO support, Hazlett said. "If a unit has a Family fun day, a deployment send-off or another activity, all they have to do is contact us, and we'll do our best to support their event," she said.

As for their visit to Fort McCoy, Larson said he was glad they stopped. "It's an honor to have them here giving us their time," he said.

For more information about the USO of Wisconsin, contact them at 414-763-2214, send email to support@usowisconsin.org, or go online to http://www.usowisconsin.org.