Gold Star Kids go east

Jermaine Kearse Programs sends 15 military youth to Washington, D.C.

By Gary Lott on June 29, 2017

There might not be another place on this planet that evokes more pride of country and a wealth of American History than Washington, D.C.

A group of military youth received free flights, hotel stays and a five-day tour of Washington, D.C. during a pilot program under USO Northwest 15 to 1: Jermaine Kearse Programs.  This program will provide yearly "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunities to military youth to travel the world with their fellow counterparts.  

"It's such an honor to have been able to send our military and Gold Star Kids (a military child who loses their parent in a service-connected death) on a trip to our nation's capital," said Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse.

Jermaine Kearse's nonprofit that supports and provides unique opportunities for military youth just recently joined forces with USO Northwest and is continuing to make life-changing impacts to the local military community.

USO Northwest and the former 15 to 1: Jermaine Kearse Foundation announced the new USO Northwest 15 to 1: Jermaine Kearse Programs partnership back in April at the Seattle Seahawks' Virginia Mason Athletic Center in Renton.

This program strives to better serve and support military families with opportunities such as this trip to Washington, D.C.

The military has always held a special place in Jermaine Kearse's heart as his dad served 18 years in the U.S. Army.

Jermaine knows what it's like to serve as a "military brat".

Fifteen military youth were selected for this "first of many" tours across the country, and possibly the globe.

Traveling across the country to tour a new city can be daunting enough, without knowing you're traveling with strangers, but if anyone can handle it ... it would be military youth.

"I went in scared and not knowing anyone and came out with many friends that I will stay in touch with," said traveling military youth, Taylor.  "I feel very thankful for being able to experience and see all of the amazing things we saw in the last couple of days.  I am very interested in art, so every building we went in was very beautiful."

Another military youth shared some of the same fears of traveling with new people, but also found a new comfort in meeting similar strangers on this trip.

"I'm not really a talkative person, more of an introvert really, but this trip helped me branch out of my comfort zone and meet new people," said Allison.  "The places we visited were awesome and the history behind them was very impactful."

Among the 15 military youth that traveled to Washington, D.C., at no cost, were seven Gold Star Kids who have all lost their parents in a service-connected death, four teens from Fairchild AFB, three "Army Brats" from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and one daughter of a Washington National Guard servicemember.

"I really was able to learn so much and my perspective on many things has changed, I would say, for the better," said "Army Brat" Keisha.  "Being able to meet people from all over Washington and other states was interesting and it was fun getting to know my peers."

During the visit, the military youth toured the Capitol Building, Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, Smithsonian Museums, Holocaust Museum, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, witnessed the Changing of the Guard at Arlington Cemetery, visited the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon, saw the World War II Memorial and many more.

Kearse was even able to talk to the military youth while they were in Washington, D.C. and reported back that they were "having much fun."

"It's a great opportunity for them to be able to enjoy an experience like this," said Kearse.  "I'm so grateful and blessed to have been able to make this happen."

To learn more about the new USO Northwest 15 to 1: Jermaine Kearse Programs and how you can help support upcoming trips like this for military youth in the future, visit

"Coming on this trip has reminded me more of what it means to be an American and shown me how truly diverse this wonderful nation is," said Mikayla.  "I am so very, incredibly thankful that I was given this incredulous opportunity."