Yesterday, like many Tuesdays, Terminal 2 was filled with men and women in uniform traveling to fulfill their orders as members of the U.S. Armed Forces. With several major military bases nearby, this is a common sight at RDU. And, RDU is honored to serve them.
I recently spent time with a few of the nearly 300 USO, or United Services Organization, volunteers who work around the clock to ensure that traveling military personnel have a place to go at RDU. Whether it’s a warm meal, access to a computer or just a place to rest, the USO is there.
Based in Terminal 2, the USO of North Carolina provides a special place for traveling active duty military, retired military and their families 24-hours per day, 365 days-a-year. In August alone, RDU’s USO helped more than 8,000 members of the military and their families.
The USO’s service doesn’t stop with a good meal and place to rest. Outside the terminals, the USO works with families in a much more delicate and emotional way. This is where I had an opportunity to observe and participate and where I was affected (for the good) in many ways.
The USO coordinates the difficult task of providing support for fallen soldiers and their families. As fallen soldiers make their final journey, USO volunteers ensure they receive the honor and respect they deserve.
The USO’s Family Support and Honors Support teams play an integral part in reuniting families with their son or daughter, assisting families who have just received news of a soldier’s passing, or assisting with the transfer of a fallen soldier to a final resting place.
Not only does the USO coordinate logistics, they arrange services on the airfield and help provide escorts for the processional either to the airport or home with groups such as the Patriot Guard (pictured). Watching one such service is an experience I’ll never forget.
Seeing firsthand what a difference the USO makes to traveling soldiers and their families and to people who are dealing with the loss of a loved one gave me a whole new appreciation for the work the USO does every day at RDU.
One thing is certain, while our armed forces are guests at RDU, they are given the honor and respect they deserve.