Today, the USO Commemorative Silver Dollar Coin tells the story of their early service and their discharge.
In 1941, as American men prepared to join the fight in World War II, organizations worked to support the military forces—the Salvation Army, Young Men’s Christian Association, Young Women’s Christian Association, National Catholic Community Services, National Travelers Aid Association and the National Jewish Welfare Board.
At the suggestion of General George C. Marshall in 1940 and approved by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the six organizations created the United Service Organizations. They chartered the USO in New York on February 4, 1941.
The USO’s mission was to provide recreation for on-leave members of the US armed forces and their families. They offered dancing, movies, live entertainment or a quiet place to talk, write letters or obtain religious counsel.
Later in 1941, the USO developed a separate entity, called Camp Shows, Inc., for coordinating volunteer entertainers to perform for the troops.
The organization established the first international USO in Rome, Italy in 1942, known as the “USO Canteen.”
During World War II, more than 1.5 million volunteers operated more than 3,000 recreational clubs. The USO negotiated their space in churches, museums, barns, railroad cars, storefronts and wherever they could service the military.
On December 31, 1947, President Harry S. Truman gave the USO an “honorable discharge” and reserving the right to call on the agencies again if necessary.
It wasn’t long before President Truman pressed the USO into service again.
Today, the USO’s web site shows statistics for 2012 such as:
– Served troops and families worldwide with more than 160 locations
– Visited nearly 9 million times by troops and their families in 2012
– Provided more than 40 major programs supporting troops and their families
– Coordinated thousands of programs and events at USO centers worldwide
– Spent 86% of USO’s total 2012 expenses on program services
– Employed fewer than 600 employees but with more than 27,000 volunteers worldwide
– Provided 28 million minutes of free phone calls home from the front lines
– Delivered 327 tons of USO2GO materials to troops in remote areas
– Performed 1.35 million hours of service by 27,000 dedicated volunteers
– Supported 9 centers in Afghanistan that were visited 170,000 times per month
– Produced more than 650 events that supported more than 344,000 troops and families
– Brought 91 celebrity entertainers on 87 tours to 24 countries, 13 states and 15 combat zones
The USO Commemorative Silver Dollar Coin remembers with appreciation the services provided by the USO and its volunteers through the years.