The USO attached to the Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility celebrated its 10th anniversary during a ceremony May 22 on Ramstein.
The ceremony included three guest speakers and a presentation in honor of the Michigan State Spartans basketball team, which played in the Armed Forces Classic here last November.
“I would like to thank all of you for joining me on this special day where we honor the 10 years of service by the CASF USO,” said Konrad Braun, USO area director for Kaiserslautern. “It’s been an honor and a privilege working side by side with the military organizations that help the CASF
function, and we will continue to support as long as the mission requires us to.”
The USO offers a home away from home for the wounded, ill and injured service members in transit from combat zones to the U.S. The CASF USO has three employees and a variety of volunteers who provide support to the wounded warriors at the CASF.
“We provide everything they need during their short stay, anything from comfort items and home cooked meals to the ability to call back home,” said Jessica Macaras, USO center manager. “We also have volunteers who get involved; they sit down and talk with (the service members) to get their mind off of what they’ve gone through.” The past 10 years have been spent not only serving the wounded, but the members of the CASF as well.
“Over the last 10 years, we’ve served more than 30,000 people, which includes the deployed service members that make up the CASF staff,” Macaras said.
Volunteers have been instrumental in the care of the wounded service members over the past decade.
“We could not have done this without our amazing volunteers; they work hand-in-hand with us at the USO,” she said. “The volunteers also run volunteer only shifts for us on Sunday morning. One of the volunteers takes the lead and runs everything here.”
Macaras said that without the USO the comforts visitors have now wouldn’t be available.
“We are here to help wounded warriors recuperate. If we weren’t here, all they would have is their bay areas,” the center manager said. “There wouldn’t be anywhere to relax, communicate with their loved ones, or simply watch a movie or play a video game.”
Being the only USO attached to a medical unit is an achievement in itself, Macaras said.
“We are the only USO that is embedded with a medical facility. For us to be here for 10 years is incredible,” Macaras said. “We work very well with the military, and it goes to show that we’re doing an awesome job and it should be celebrated.”