MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
The United Service Organizations have been serving military personnel and their families for more than 60 years. According to the USO website, the USO is a private, nonprofit organization, which is supported by private citizens and corporations.
There are currently more than 160 operating USO centers throughout the world, including four centers on mainland Japan.
With the four USO centers already established in Japan, talks of another center being launched have risen aboard the station, said Juliet Bucayu- Domingo, USO Japan country director.
USO Japan has been working together with military personnel and Marine Corps Community Services to determine if a USO center aboard the station is possible or necessary.
“There is an anticipated buildup of the base,” said Bucayu- Domingo. “The larger the population, the more support is required.”
In March, personnel from USO Japan toured the base with station military personnel and MCCS members to assess the potential for a USO center aboard the station.
With the scouting phase done and possible locations selected, USO Japan workers and station personnel are currently discussing the need for a USO here.
“The USO and MCCS have had an existing relationship, and they have been very supportive of Iwakuni events,” said Sean W. McHenry, MCCS Iwakuni marketing officer.
While there is still no existing USO aboard the station, its presence does exist.
“They gave us prizes to give away at the Marine Corps Ball as well as other items that can be given to the children,” McHenry said.
USOs around the world are important to military members and their families for many reasons.
“The USO brand is synonymous for providing support to the military and their families,” said Bucayu-Domingo. “We provide an inviting and relaxing atmosphere. We also have the capability to provide outreach support to other bases we do not have a physical presence in.”
USO centers offer much more than just support to military members and their families. Activities and programs are offered as well.
“We provide morale-boosting programs which are vital, especially when overseas, where options may be a bit more limited than in the United States,” said Bucayu-Domingo.
In order to see how many people support the idea of a USO, USO Japan is scheduled to host a two-day USO Bazaar aboard the station.
The bazaar is scheduled July 30 at the IronWorks Gym here from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., and July 31 from 10:00 a.m. – to 5:00 p.m.
Some items that were available at the bazaar included kokeshi dolls, kimonos, clothing, jewelry, furniture and more.
Cash, credit and yen was accepted.