DEAR ABBY: With all the support you provide to our servicemen and women through Operation Dear Abby, perhaps you'd like to tell your readers that the USO is still alive and well. The United Services Organization, which is non-profit and receives no funding from the government, was founded in 1941 during World War II.
My 17-year-old twin daughters and I volunteer at the USO Puget Sound Area Military Center at the Seattle International Airport. People say, "Oh, is USO still around? We thought that was a World War II thing." Well, it IS still around, because we still have men and women in uniform (most of the armed services today are volunteers), who have chosen to protect our country and "stand on the wall of freedom." My daughters and I feel honored to serve them, to show them the American people appreciate them and what they are doing for our country.
Even in peacetime, servicemen and women risk their lives daily. Last February, three Coast Guardsmen lost their lives off the coast of Washington while rescuing a sailboat in trouble. It really brought home the fact that servicemen and women today, whether in a peacekeeping situation like Bosnia or routine jobs at military installations around the world, are "in the line of fire" constantly.
USO stays open thanks to the efforts of volunteers who give of their time and money, and organizations who donate items and money to provide refreshments, a quiet place away from the airport terminals and -- many times -- information to help them to get to their next duty station. Whether the person who walks through that center door is a 17-year veteran of the services or a new recruit fresh out of boot camp, these people need our respect and appreciation.
As a proud volunteer at the USO, I ask your help in informing your readers that USO exists and needs their support. -- WENDY FLORES, SEATTLE
DEAR WENDY: I'm pleased to pass along the word that such a worthwhile organization is alive and well. I vividly remember the USO from World War II. Its volunteers and contributors deserve praise for continuing to provide a comfortable and supportive atmosphere for our servicemen and women who are far from home. An excellent way to support our soldiers is to support the USO.