His military fatigues stood out in a grumpy set of travelers like someone wearing a tuxedo at a pool party. We were both waiting for the same flight, and as crowded as that gate was (PHX is a beautiful airport!), our eyes happened to meet. I have always been confused by the protocol here, as many popular ads have suggested that I should applaud or give up my seat. Instead, I plucked up some courage and approached hesitantly. “Hi…I just wanted to say thank you for your service.”
He smiled, part perturbed that I had interrupted his reverie, & part grateful for me taking the time to say hello. And that was it. As I walked away, my brief look into his eyes helped me understand that the uniform he wore and all it stood for was much heavier than the rugged sack he was carrying. I wasn’t sure whether he was reporting for duty or coming home to loved ones, Jack (b/c I didn’t ask what his name was) had signed up, and somewhere in his “Why the uniform?” lay a set of values, his family, vision for his country, and much more.
Fortunately, my initial hesitance has no place at the United Service Organizations (USO), the nation’s leading organization dedicated to active service members and their families with the mission of keeping them connected to the people, places and things they love. The centers are run by committed staff, and offer services to help connect service members with their families via Internet or phone, provide options like movies and videogames, and much more. The USO has 160 locations worldwide, has served over 10 million members, & will be 75 years old in February. Wow.
For our active service members and their families, we’ve put together a list of USO’s in US airports. Over 90% of these can be found on the free flightSpeak on IOS app with their open hours and locations:
* ANC / Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport – This is an YMCA armed services courtesy lounge.
You can pick up a copy of this data here: USO US locations
You’ll probably see someone in the military on your next trip.
Their efforts, values, and families are part of what make this country great. Walk over, say hi and thank them for their service. Chances are you’ll walk away having made someone smile. Chances are you’ll be smiling too.
The flightSpeak team.