USO Northwest Shali Center named best at TellUSO Awards

By Northwest Military News Team on May 6, 2013

The USO has many missions these days. As the wars die down, the organization has amped up its support for the wounded and their families. It has provided thousands and thousands of free phone calls for the troops in Afghanistan. It has even issued public service announcements aimed at bridging the gap between the military and civilian communities. That said, arguably the USO's main mission, since its inception in 1941, is to lift the spirits of troops and their families.

Sometimes, the USO lifts its own spirits, as in the case when the organization awarded its own at the inaugural TellUSO Awards ceremony Wednesday, May 1 at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tenn.

Local Servicemembers looking for a spirit boost need only to drop by the USO Northwest's Shali Center located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The Shali Center grabbed the Top Center honor in the Military Installation category at the TellUSO Awards.

"This is a wonderful award and it is really based on the 150 volunteers that work around the clock for our troops and their families," stated USO Northwest Executive Director Don Leingang in a news release. "Our volunteers make sure the troops we serve are treated with respect and that we give them the proper sendoff and that's what we are focused on. This award means we have a lot of great volunteers and we have a great center manager that's taking care of the military families and troops that are in the area."

The TellUSO Awards are based on the results of the 2012 TellUSO Sound Off Survey, which polled more than 16,000 troops and families worldwide on the USO's performance. The USO has used those results each of the last four years to measure performance and guide priorities and programming in its 160 centers worldwide. This year, it took the extra step of formally recognizing its top performing centers in an award ceremony at the USO Leadership Conference.

Leingang, accompanied by staff from USO Northwest, accepted the award on behalf of the Shali Center. The center features a troop lounge, Xbox, computers with free Internet, snacks and beverages. USO Northwest - which serves troops and military families throughout Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington state - works closely with the base operations staff during troop deployments to distribute individual USO care packages to Servicemembers deploying to combat zones through Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

USO Northwest will celebrate its honor at 1 p.m. Thursday, May 9 during a barbecue for military and volunteers at the Shali Center.