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New USO manager brings experience

A perfect fit for the Camp Lewis USO Center

David Dutcher is the new manager of the reopened Camp Lewis USO Center. Photo Credit: Courtesy photo

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USO Northwest recently welcomed David Dutcher as the new manager of its Camp Lewis Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM).

"Due to the pandemic, the center has been closed for a little over a year," said the native of Mississippi, "and I would say that my two biggest challenges are bringing onboard adequate volunteer staff ... and socializing the news out to our JBLM service members that we're open and ready to support their needs."

Dutcher is no stranger to the USO (United Service Organizations). As a youngster he recalls the morale boosting impact the concern had on soldiers deploying to war zones.

"I knew that I wanted to be a part of that very special organization," he continued.

After completing his college education, Dutcher went to work for the IBM Corporation in Austin, Texas. He recalls reading three bulletin boards on the wall in the employee breakroom.

"The board on the left showed employees that were recently promoted; the middle board showed employees that had recently retired; and the right board showed retired employee obituaries. I noticed that many employees seemed to be working long into their senior years before retiring, and then I would see their photo on the obituary board a few months later," he explained.

With that in mind, Dutcher determined that while he would build a career within IBM, he would not do it at the expense of being able to enjoy his retirement years.

"There had to be more to life than just the high pressure corporate world."

His outlook on life coincided with the volunteer work he soon began with the USO Headquarters team.

"I was able to continue my corporate passion of making a worldwide impact, thus my helping to sponsor the building of the new USO centers in Turkey and Iraq," he explained.

After relocating to the Pacific Northwest about a decade ago, and through his connection with USO leadership, Dutcher was introduced to the USO Northwest staff and invited to attend a USO Northwest Gala fund raising event.

He successfully bid on an auction item called a No-Dough Dinner. "I wasn't exactly sure what it was all about, but it sounded good," he said.

While attending the dinner at the USO Shali Center at McChord Field, Dutcher was overwhelmed by the experience.

"About 100 airmen were treated to a special meal," he explained, "and I'm certain that I was thanked for funding the dinner at least two to three times by everyone. I was hooked!"

He went on to point out that the best feature about USO Northwest is the "can do" attitude of its volunteers and staff.

"Our volunteers provide an extremely wide range of services in our centers located at the SeaTac Airport, Portland Airport, as well as our two JBLM locations - the Shali and Camp Lewis Centers," he said.

"Also our Mobile Canteen vans that hit the road to serve a hearty meal at area Coast Guard, Navy, and National Guard installations."

As the new Camp Lewis USO Center manager, Dutcher plans to make sure the center is open and welcoming to active duty service members and their families.

"It will be a happy place to be," he added.

Dutcher will also create and manage special events such as No-Dough

Dinners and Coffee Connections where military spouses can socialize.

And finally, since the USO Northwest does not receive any government funding, Dutcher will lead fund raising efforts to keep the center strong and vital.

"I believe I'm the perfect fit to both continue the mission of great service and to group our scope into the future."

The center is located inside the America's Credit Union on the corner of North 12th St. and Pendleton Ave. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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