ARLINGTON, Va., May 6, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden and the USO thanked the military community with an unforgettable evening of laughter. The event, held in the D.C. Air National Guard hangar, was up close and personal for 1,300 servicemen and women and their families, while those stationed abroad watched via live webcast and at nearly 15 USO center viewing parties around the world, from USO Korea and USO Hawaii to USO San Francisco and USO Georgia, among others. ***For USO photos click here.***
Hosted by USO tour veteran Jon Stewart and featuring a special appearance by David Letterman, A Celebration of Service Presented by the USO and Joining Forces delivered laughs from comedians Judd Apatow, Mike Birbiglia, Kristen Schaal, Hasan Minhaj, John Mulaney and Jeff Ross. Commemorating the legacy of the USO and its milestone 75th anniversary, the event also celebrated the 5th anniversary of Joining Forces and their work with the public and private sector to support service members, veterans and their families. Among one of many highlights of the evening was a ceremonial cake-cutting, which ended with the singing of "Happy Birthday" by President Obama, the Vice President, First Lady and Dr. Biden.
"I want to thank the USO for the outstanding work that they have done for so many years," said President Obama. "It means so much to not only to those who serve in uniform, but also their families. We are very proud of them."
On April 12, 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden launched and spearheaded Joining Forces, a nationwide initiative calling Americans to rally around service members, veterans and their families and support them through wellness, education and employment opportunities. Today, five years later, Joining Forces has and continues to work hand-in-hand with the public, private and non-profit sectors – to include the USO – to ensure service members, veterans and their families have the necessary tools they need to succeed.
"Mr. President, Mrs. Obama, Mr. Vice President and Dr. Biden, on behalf of the USO, let me say how honored and thrilled we are you are here to help us lead this salute," said J.D. Crouch II, USO CEO and President. "For 75 years it has been a point of pride for the USO to have the President of the United States serve as the honorary chair of our board of governors. I also want to thank General Darryl Burke and Colonel Bradley Hoagland. These events do not come together by themselves and the men and women under your command at Joint Base Andrews have done their usual outstanding job to make this night possible."
As the USO celebrates its 75th year, its mission of strengthening America's service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country is as vital today as it was in 1941. To mark the anniversary, the USO invites Americans to get better acquainted with today's USO and look for ways they can better support our military families. Whether it's volunteering with the USO, helping out military neighborhoods, friends and relatives, assisting a service members you've never met, joining our mission of connection by supporting the USO's Campaign to Connect by visiting USO.org/connect to send a personalized message of support, the USO urges everyone to stay more connected.
"Every military family in here can tell you, those who are here and those who are listening, that every family knows it's the little things," said Vice President Joe Biden. "It's the little things that really matter. USO volunteers are there to say goodbye to our warriors as they deploy and they are the first ones to welcome them home when they return. It matters. I know it mattered to our son Bo…"
Since just before the United States entered World War II, the USO has been the bridge between the American people and our men and women in uniform – extending a much-needed touch of home. From its humble beginnings of letter writing, sending care packages and staging USO Camp Shows, the USO has evolved and its connectivity has expanded from phone cards and hard lines to our own private satellite network that allows service members to connect to their families. And as the USO rededicates itself to the nation by forging new connections between Americans and our nation's military community it kicks off a year of celebration. President Obama first recognized the USO for its 75 years of service to America's military with letter of support on February 4, 2016.
"This is May, this is Military Appreciation Month," said Stewart. "And I believe that what starts with the USO is this… that we make Military Appreciation month all year long because for too long only military families and the military personnel have borne the brunt of service, and we need to get the whole country involved and to tell your story to everyone who is out there. The time is right and so it is an honor to be here, and to help with the process."
Political satirist/writer and stand-up comedian Jon Stewart has been making audiences laugh since he first arrived in New York in 1986. The former host of Comedy Central's hit show "The Daily Show," is also the co-author of "America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction" and "Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race."
"The USO… in 2002 took me and my friends Paul Shaffer and Bill Henderson to Afghanistan," said Letterman. "In 2003 they took us to Iraq. In 2004 they took us to Iraq… We did shows in Kuwait. We did shows in Kandahar and it was, as anyone can tell you, a life-changing experience and I would like to thank them for that opportunity."
After stints as a weatherman, news anchor and stand-up comic, David Letterman came to prominence in the 1980s with a late-night talk show on NBC. Surpassing friend, mentor and legendary "Tonight Show" host Johnny Carson as the longest-serving late night talk show host in American television history, Letterman hosted NBC's "Late Night with David Letterman" for 33 consecutive years.
Emmy-winning screenwriter, producer and director Judd Apatow is best known for his films as "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "Knocked Up," "This Is 40," "Bridesmaids," and "Trainwreck," among others. Also a success on the small screen, he is the executive producer of the HBO series "Girls."
Comedian, author, actor and playwright Mike Birbiglia made a name for himself with his hugely successful one-man show Sleepwalk With Me. A Georgetown University alum, he honed his comedic craft at the DC Improv before moving to New York City and gone on to be featured in Comedy Central's "Premium Blend," among others.
Best known for her role as 'Mel' on HBO's "Flight of the Conchords," Kristen Schaal is an actress, voice artist, writer and comedian. She co-stars on Fox's series "The Last Man on Earth" and can also be heard as the voice of 'Louise Belcher' in Fox's "Bob's Burgers" and 'Mabel Pines' in Disney XD's "Gravity Falls."
Hasan Minhaj is a comedian, actor, writer and correspondent for "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah." His critically acclaimed one man show "Homecoming King" recently returned off broadway after a sold old run in 2015. A featured storyteller, he is the author of the web series "The Truth with Hanson Minhaj" and has been seen on shows like "Arrested Development," "Getting On" and "@Midnight."
Born and raised in Chicago, John Mulaney is a comedian, actor, writer and producer known for his work on "Saturday Night Live." The creator and star of past FOX sitcom "Mulaney," the star released his third stand-up comedy special "The Comeback Kid" on Netflix in November.
Commonly known as 'The Roastmaster General,' Jeff Ross has delivered show-stopping performances at countless celebrity roasts. Coming up, Ross will bring a new competition, adapted from his ongoing stage show "Roast Battle," as well as a new special, "Jeff Ross Roast Police," to Comedy Central's 2016-2017 development line-up. An avid supporter of the military, he has participated in four USO tours and countless hospital visits.
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 a private, non-profit organization, not a government agency. Our programs, services and entertainment tours are made possible by the American people, 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, FedEx, Johnson & Johnson, Kroger, NFL and Four-Star Partners: Advisors Excel, BIC, ConAgra Foods, 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.
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Source: United Service Organizations (USO)