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USO; keeping service members connected

Incirlik Air Base USO members and U.S. Air Force volunteers hand out USO merchandise during the 4th of July celebration at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, July 4, 2018.

Incirlik Air Base USO members and U.S. Air Force volunteers hand out USO merchandise during the 4th of July celebration at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, July 4, 2018. The USO Incirlik has over 400 programs a year to help members of the base interact with each other. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brittany E. N. Murphy)

Incirlik Air Base USO members and U.S. Air Force volunteers hand out USO merchandise during the 4th of July celebration at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, July 4, 2018.

Incirlik Air Base USO members and U.S. Air Force volunteers hand out USO merchandise during the 4th of July celebration at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, July 4, 2018. The primary mission of the USO Incirlik is to support service men and women, as well as coalition forces, through different programs and amenities, allowing members to get involved and to feel comfortable while stationed abroad. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brittany E. N. Murphy)

U.S. Air Force Airmen attend the weekly Waffle Wednesday at the USO at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, July 11, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Airmen attend the weekly Waffle Wednesday at the USO at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, July 11, 2018. The USO provides many similar programs to improve the welfare of service members who cannot leave the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brittany E. N. Murphy))

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Valtrice Sullivan, 39th Security Forces Squadron contingency deployer and USO volunteer, hands out ice cream to Airmen at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, July 13, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Valtrice Sullivan, 39th Security Forces Squadron contingency deployer and USO volunteer, hands out ice cream to Airmen at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, July 13, 2018. Frozen Friday is one of the reoccurring programs hosted by the USO to raise the moral of service members on bae. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brittany E. N. Murphy)

Lisa Wease, USO center manager (right), and U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Valtrice Sullivan, 39th Security Forces Squadron contingency deployer and USO volunteer (center), hand out ice cream at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, July 13, 2018.

Lisa Wease, USO center manager (right), and U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Valtrice Sullivan, 39th Security Forces Squadron contingency deployer and USO volunteer (center), hand out ice cream at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, July 13, 2018. Wease likes to gear programs, like Frozen Friday, towards entertaining and keeping people connected in a fun and friendly way that is alcohol and tobacco free. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brittany E. N. Murphy)

Service members watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup at the USO at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, July 10, 2018.

Service members watch the 2018 FIFA World Cup at the USO at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, July 10, 2018. U.S. service members and coalition forces can find unique activities like this in the USO’s monthly calendar. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Brittany E. N. Murphy)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey --

Being in a different country away from family and friends can be difficult for service members stationed and deployed at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Knowing family separation adds stress, USO Incirlik strives to connect service members with their family back home as well as build a connected community on base. 

 

With over 400 programs, USO Incirlik customizes activities to fit the unique environment that comes along with being stationed here.

 

Lisa Wease, USO Incirlik center manager, gears those programs towards connecting and entertaining people in a fun and friendly way that is alcohol and tobacco free.

 

“Helping service members stay connected is a huge part of the operation here. To aid in this, we have four ‘troop’ phones members can call home on completely free of charge,” said Wease. “We also have phone calling cards and a strong Wi-Fi connection if you would prefer to use your own phone to call home.”

 

To stay connected to little ones, the USO also has a program called United Through Reading, where members can record themselves reading a book and the USO will mail that book and video to anywhere the member choses.

 

Other ways the USO likes to sustain the mission and improve the welfare of service members is through their reoccurring weekly programs, which include Waffle Wednesdays, Sunday brunch and Frozen Fridays.

 

“We are always out on Friday’s doing Frozen Fridays throughout the summer, just to give you that little sweet treat and cool you off a little bit,” said Wease. “We are looking for units and places where we can visit; we want to come and surprise you.”

 

These programs are not possible without the dedication and commitment from staff and volunteer members. While the USO is here to stay, it is currently decreasing the number of staffed members. To maintain these programs and facility hours, the USO is asking for volunteers to aid their operations.

 

“We will definitely need the volunteers to kind of help us with these 400 programs and also help us man the facility that is open seven days a week,” said Wease. “There is [a program], it’s actually called volunteer incentive program; based on the number of hours you get, you get some sort of really cool USO swag.”

 

In addition to USO swag, military members who volunteer a significant amount may also qualify for the military outstanding volunteer service medal.

 

Whether you receive swag and a medal or not, service members’ volunteer commitment to the USO directly affects the hours or operation.

 

Hours are largely dictated by when people can volunteer and the amount of people who visit the center. To record these visits, the USO asks people to sign it at kiosks.

 

“Always sign in, because your foot traffic really helps us to get our funding to stay open, and choose great snacks and programs and things like that.” We have a fun and relaxing environment,” said Wease. “You can kind of step away. We are here for everybody, not just the deployers, active duty, reservist, retired, and any coalition forces as well.”

 

The USO, located in patriot village, is currently open from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m., seven days a week.

 

For more information about the Incirlik USO, or to register as a volunteer, contact Lisa Wease at 314-676-2829.