Renee Lane, Fort Bragg center director of the United Service Organizations of North Carolina, can’t help but compare the organization’s new digs to the old ones.
Previously, the USO of N.C. was located in a 4,000 square foot facility adjacent to the Blackjack Fitness Center on Goldberg Street. As such, most people associated it with a recreation area, rather than as a Family-friendly organization designed to aid Soldiers and their Family members.
USO of N.C. moved to the new center, April 30, Lane said. It is currently located in Wing L, first floor of the Soldier Support Center on Normandy Drive, where a ribbon cutting was held, June 7.
“The Fort Bragg Center has operated on post since July 2008,” Lane said. “But today, as we open a new center, you will see for yourself how differently USO of N.C. will serve our military and Families in the future, on this installation.”
The pool table will not play such a prominent role in USO of N.C. activities. Seating areas, computers, Wi-Fi, a day room, refreshment areas, a TV and access to print, fax, scan and copy services is also available at the new location.
With about 5,000 visitors to the SSC each day, the USO of N.C.’s new location will be a more relevant place for troops and Families to gather, take a break and eat lunch, said Lane.
“To have the opportunity to serve 10 to 11 percent of today’s Army here at Fort Bragg is a huge undertaking and an honor,” she said.
The move becomes significant because it places the USO of N.C. on Fort Bragg in a centralized location that is available to Soldiers as they in-process and out-process to and from Fort Bragg, and is easily accessed from the ground-floor elevators at the SSC.
“There’s nowhere to go but up,” Lane said.
“(The move) affords us the opportunity to partner with Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, (with) Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation and every other institution and organization that has a hand in supporting Soldiers and their Family members,” said Col. Stephen Sicinski, former Fort Bragg Garrison commander.
“We’ve had the USO on Fort Bragg over on East Bragg for quite awhile. The facility that they were in at that time leaned more towards recreation,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Samuel Campbell, Fort Bragg Garrison command sergeant major. “Moving over here really highlights that they (the USO) go well beyond recreation and the importance that they have on the community can be enjoyed by a lot of other people.”
Pfc. Tyler Williams, of the 82nd Financial Management Support Unit, attended the ribbon cutting ceremony.
“This is nice. It gives people a place to go. It’s just convenient to have here,” he said.
The USO of N.C. has been there for homecomings and deployments; from Landstuhl, Germany to Bethesda, Md. said John Falkenbury, its president. Moving forward, the organization plans to focus on placing satellite centers on college campuses, encouraging studies in science, technology, engineering and math studies and on addressing critical needs relating to mentoring and to post traumatic stress disorder, said Falkenbury.
The USO of N.C. has opened two centers in the past seven months — one at Fayetteville Regional Airport, which opened November 2011 and the one at the Soldier Support Center.
The hours of operation for the airport location are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
The Fort Bragg Center will operate from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Founded more than 70 years ago, the USO of N.C. has been providing morale, welfare and recreation services to U.S. military personnel and their Families since then. It is a non-profit organization that relies on the generosity of North Carolinians.
For more information, visit the USO of N.C. website at www.uso-nc.org/our-centers/fort-bragg-center or call 495-1437 (Fort Bragg) or 482-8200 (Fayetteville airport).