USO extends hours to support RED FLAG-Alaska

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kahdija Slaughter, a 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs broadcast journalist and USO volunteer, serves a visiting service member a slice of pizza Aug. 3, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The USO opened for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game 2017 and provided free pizza. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Eric M. Fisher)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kahdija Slaughter, a 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs broadcast journalist and USO volunteer, serves a visiting service member a slice of pizza Aug. 3, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The USO opened for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game 2017 and provided free pizza. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Eric M. Fisher)

U.S. Service members watch football Aug. 3, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. During major exercises, the Eielson USO helps to support TDY members by opening two additional days a week for dinner. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Eric M. Fisher)

U.S. Service members watch football Aug. 3, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. During major exercises, the Eielson USO helps to support TDY members by opening two additional days a week for dinner. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Eric M. Fisher)

Brittany West, left, the Eielson USO center operations supervisor, and U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kahdija Slaughter, a 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs broadcast journalist and USO volunteer, pose for a photo Aug. 3, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The USO was founded in 1941 after a request from President Franklin Roosevelt for morale and recreation support for service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Eric M. Fisher)

Brittany West, left, the Eielson USO center operations supervisor, and U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kahdija Slaughter, a 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs broadcast journalist and USO volunteer, pose for a photo Aug. 3, 2017, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. The USO was founded in 1941 after a request from President Franklin Roosevelt for morale and recreation support for service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Eric M. Fisher)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --

The United Services Organization was founded in 1941, after a request from President Franklin Roosevelt to help improve morale and recreation for U.S. Service members.

With more than 200 locations throughout the world the USO has definitely done just that, but in some locations support can still be limited due to remoteness or lack of volunteers. 

Those challenges aren’t enough to stop the USO volunteers here on Eielson, which opened earlier this year. Under normal circumstances the USO is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but during major exercises, such as RED FLAG-Alaska or NORTHERN EDGE, the USO opens its doors on Mondays and Wednesdays as well to accommodate thousands of visiting service members annually.

“We give the units who are TDY here a place to go,” said Brittany West, the Eielson USO center operations supervisor. “A place where they can be comfortable and relax, enjoy some free food, and most important to them, internet access”

Many service members find themselves thousands of miles from their homes and families. They stay in dorms without internet access and it can be difficult to get out and do things in Alaska without a vehicle because everything is so far apart. The USO gives them opportunities to enjoy themselves in between shifts. 

“Any time the USO is open, I take advantage of it,” said Senior Airman Christopher Ballard, a visiting Airman with the 80th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron assigned to Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea. “The USO has every option you can think of, games, food, internet… It’s convenient and gives you time to unwind after a long day.”

For more information about upcoming Eielson USO events, visit their page at: facebook.com/USOEielson