ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Feb. 12, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- State representatives and local military leadership joined the United Service Organizations (USO) as USO Alaska staff and volunteers welcomed guests into their brand new center and wellness center on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER). The installation is home to more than 13,000 military personnel and nearly 20,000 family members and its strategic location plays an importance role in our country's national security priorities.
A grand opening ceremony took place and included remarks by distinguished guests, a ribbon cutting of the new buildings and tours of the space. Remarks from guest speakers included: Dr. J.D. Crouch ll, CEO and President of the USO, Mrs. Donna Walker, First Lady of Alaska, Col. Brian Bruckbauer, Commander, Joint Base Elmendorf- Richarson and Tara Mogan, USO Alaska Center Director.
"The USO is a well-recognized, trusted place of respite for our service members, keeping them connected to friends, family and one another," said Mrs. Donna Walker, First Lady of Alaska. "We look forward to many years of collaboration with the USO in Alaska, and the many smiles on the faces of our service members and military families that are sure to follow."
The USO's mission is to strengthen America's military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to the nation. While the USO has been serving Alaska on and off since as far back as WWII, they will now be able to carry on that mission permanently at their location on JBER. With future plans to grow and expand outreach and services, USO Alaska will also soon be able to better serve all branches - active duty, National Guard and Reserve throughout the state.
"Separation is the central challenge of military life. It's not going into harm's way, it's being separated from the things you love," said J.D. Crouch II, CEO and President of the USO. "Having to go overseas and wearing the uniform. Living a different life and being asked to do things that most Americans don't understand. It is for that reason that the USO is committed to being the organization that helps you stay connected to those things."
The USO Alaska Center will offer the traditional amenities of a home-away-from-home USO center, including cozy couches, leather gaming seats, Xbox, PlayStation, cable TV, computers with Wi-Fi and CAC access, printing, light snacks and refreshments. The center will also feauture a multipurpose room with a big-screen TV and will be available for meetings, trainings, movie marathons and other USO programs and events.
Just yards away, the first ever USO Wellness Center will offer commercial-grade fitness equipment, including cardio and weight machines, free weights, TRX, battle ropes and more. The wellness cener is part of an effort to create programming that's focused on physical and emotional resiliency and is designed to supplement existing wellness and fitness program offerings at JBER. Both buildings existed previously and were renovated with fresh, brightly colored paint, new flooring and new furniture and equipment to create a comfortable and inviting space for center guests.
The new centers aren't the only support that the USO has provided recently to JBER. Since October, USO Alaska has directly supported 27 local military events, all before its doors opened. This included holiday events, EFMP support, chaplain training, pre-deployment support and other military family and single service member initiatives, covering active duty, National Guard and reservists and their families serving at JBER.
"It's very rare in the military for you to see a project started and completed in one tour of command and we did it within a year. This goes back to the level of commitment that the USO Alaska staff has," said Col. Brian Bruckbauer, Commander, Joint Base Elmendorf- Richarson." We couldn't do this without the support of our community partners and it's amazing to see how everyone has come together on the installation."
With support from staff and volunteers, the new USO Alaska Center will be open 365 days a year, from 1200 – 2200 Sunday through Thursday and 1200-2400 Friday and Saturdays. The USO Wellness Center will be open 24/7, with staff and volunteers present during business hours.
About the USO
The USO strengthens America's military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to the nation. At hundreds of locations worldwide, we are united in our commitment to connect our service members and their families through countless acts of caring, comfort and support. The USO is not a government agency, but a private nonprofit organization. Our programs, services and entertainment tours are made possible by the American people, the support of our corporate partners and the dedication of our volunteers and staff.
In addition to individual donors and corporate sponsors, the USO is supported by President's Circle Partners: AT &T, the BNSF Railway Foundation, Clark Construction Group, LLC, The Coca-Cola Company, Johnson & Johnson, Kroger, NFL and Four-Star Partners: BIC, ConAgra Foods, FedEx, GEICO, JCPenney, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, TKS and the Wawa Foundation. We are also supported through the United Way and Combined Federal Campaign (CFC-11381). To join us in this important mission, and to learn more about the USO, please visit uso.org.
A photo accompanying this release is available at: http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=38931
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Source: United Service Organizations (USO)