Story and photos by
Karen A. Iwamoto
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS USO Hawaii celebrated the grand opening of its newest center, here, Wednesday, with food, music and camaraderie.
From the outside, the one-level building between the Conroy Bowl building and the Family Fitness Center, across the street from the Sgt. Smith Theater, appears unremarkable.
But inside, the space has been renovated. The dcor is clean and comfortable, and the estimated 2,400 square feet of space is filled with all the amenities of a modern lounge: wood-paneled floors, new couches, big-screen televisions, video game consoles, cellphone charging stations, a computer station and more.
USO Centers are home away from home for Soldiers (and their families), said Clifton Clevenger, manager of the Schofield USO Center, who is himself an Army veteran and the spouse of an active duty Soldier. This is a place where they can come relax, hang out and forget that they are homesick and away from their families for a little while.
I can remember being a Soldier and getting off that plane and being in a place that isnt familiar and not knowing where to go, he added. Youre looking for something friendly, something familiar. Oftentimes, youre stressed and tired. When you see the USO Center, its like walking into your home.
The location of the Schofield Barracks USO Center also holds historical significance, as U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii commander Stephen E. Dawson pointed out during his remarks at the grand opening.
At one time, when we werent using Conway Bowl for Soldier processing thats where we had concerts, boxing matches, Dawson said. Bob Hope performed there. Elvis Presley performed there. They were bringing great shows through the USO back then. We have the historic Sgt. Smith Theater next door, and more importantly, its in walking distance for our Soldiers, (so) they can get here very easily.
C.K. Hyde, vice president of the USOs Pacific Region, also highlighted the USOs long history in the region, emphasizing the support and strength it has offered troops over the decades.
We strengthen those forces by connecting them to those things for which they serve and for which they fight: home, family and country. Thats why were here at Schofield Barracks, to be a part of your team, to make sure that that connection is strong. This center stands as a reminder that the people of the United States of America, our corporate partners, have not forgotten (what you do).
Sometimes our service members wonder, Do our fellow Americans know about what we do and do they care? The answer is this facility. It is their resources and their commitment to you as service members and families.
Years of planning
The Schofield Barracks USO Center is the result of years of planning between Army Hawaii leadership and the USO, according to Juliet Bucayu-Domingo, area director of USO Hawaii.
The center is the fourth in Hawaii and will help the USO continue strengthening Americas military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country throughout their service to the nation, she added.
It will provide free services, such as Internet access, video gaming, holiday meals, Tot Tuesdays and Operation Birthday Cake for Soldiers and families stationed at Schofield, she said.
She recognized the following regional and local sponsors for making these services possible: AIU, Dominos, Delta Air Lines, P&G, the Jack and Marie Lord Foundation, Geico, Veterans United, Argosy University, Health Net Federal Services and JN Motors.
History of the USO
President Franklin D. Roosevelt united the Salvation Army, the YMCA, the YWCA, the National Catholic Community Services, the National Travelers Aid Association and the National Jewish Welfare Board into the USO in 1941, according to the USO website. The purpose of the USO is to lift service members morale and provide support and nourishment on the home front.
The USO continues to fulfill this mission through its more than 150 USO centers on every continent, except Antarctica, and through its trademark tours that bring American celebrities to entertain military personnel who are serving overseas.
The USO is a congressionally chartered private organization that relies on support from individuals, organizations and corporations to support its programs.
Other USO Centers in Hawaii
Honolulu International Airport
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam
Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island
Visit these sites for more details:
Call for Volunteers
The Schofield Barracks USO Center depends on volunteers to help keep its services running. Volunteers help staff center events, greet and check-in service members, and more.
To become a volunteer, register at https://volunteers.uso.org.