INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - If you remember the USO, its certainly because of Bob Hope and his USO tours in war zones from Vietnam to Persian Gulf. But the USO’s mission also hits close to home in Indiana.
The USO lounge operates every day at Camp Atterbury west of Edinburgh. It provides a home away from home for service men and women deployed there for training.
“As you can see, these guys over here playing games they like to play, so it really does improve morale,” said Army Captain Victor Gaines.
The lounge comes complete with pool tables, lounge chairs and a kitchen where veterans like Jerry Shepard cook up grill cheese sandwiches for the troops. Jerry is 80 years old. He served in the Marines and used to go to USO shows in the 1950’s. He knows how hard it can be to serve far from home.
“I feel like I have made it easier for them,” said Shepard “It warms my heart, no other way to describe it.”
For many of the soldiers, the USO lounge will provice the only comfort they get during their deployment. It’s a reminder of home that means more than many of them can say.
"We had a Marine that was in tears and said he'd been away from his family for three months and this is the first time he felt connected to them," said Jaclyn Bolin, the manager of the lounge.
Veterans volunteer at the USO lounge every day to keep it open whenever it’s needed. Those volunteers say it’s a tangible way to support the troops.