We're used to seeing the USO at airports, welcoming back troops and making them comfortable. They send tens of thousands of care packages and phone cards to service members abroad. But today the 70-year-old organization started something new at Fort Belvoir.
Operation Enduring Care is focused squarely on wounded veterans. Since 2001, some 40,000 have been injured in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now the USO wants to make sure its support extends through the healing process.
Ground was broken for a building that could be a turning point for wounded warriors and their families. During the next 18 months, part of Fort Belvoir will be transformed into the first ever stateside Wounded Warrior Family Center. It will be operated by the USO.
The USO also launched Operation Enduring Care -- a $100 million fundraising campaign to build family centers at both Fort Belvoir, where the new Dewitt Army Hospital is opening soon, and at the new Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. The center will be constructed next to the new Warrior Transition Units, where service members who are out of the hospital but still receiving treatment will stay.
The family centers will offer play space for visiting children, movie theaters, classrooms and business centers. A big focus will be helping wounded vets chart a path to a new career if necessary.