USO aims to be a ‘second home’


WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — The United Services Organizations Community Center of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is in its second year of taking care of all branches of active-duty service members, guard, reservists and their families.

The USO of Central and Southern Ohio and members of the community refurbished the installation’s former Community and Airmen Center and hosted a grand opening of the facility in February 2016.

The WPAFB USO is open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week Monday through Friday and from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the weekends.

“We want to give Airmen and their families the feeling of being at home,” said Mia Walthers, Wright-Patterson AFB USO Center Manager. “Evenings and weekends are our busiest times with different programs and events scheduled, it doesn’t leave much time to be bored.”

Airmen can take advantage of free Wi-Fi, free drinks and snacks in the Wright Café, a lounge equipped with sofas, chairs and tables. There are flat-screen TVs for viewing and three video game stations with overstuffed chairs to accommodate the gamers. The center features a computer station that has two CAC enabled computers on one side of the wall, and two private computer stations on the other side. The gathering place also boasts a game room equipped with a pool table, air hockey, an electronic basketball game, a poker table and ping-pong table.

“After Airmen finish their duty day and perform PT, they often come to the center to hang out and relax or work on their career development courses,” said Walthers. “We want the center to have the feel of being at a ‘second home.’”

The Wright-Patt USO center offers programs like the grant requests program, which assists military units with funds to support unit events. Other programs aim to ease stress on military families, such as “read2connect” that helps maintain connections between military children and their geographically separated loved ones by sharing a recorded story. The monthly Gary Sinise Serving Heroes Dinner that feed up to 150 military members and their families. The center also welcomes events hosted by community organizations who want to show support for service members.

“The staffing at the facility is done with volunteers, they are the heart of the organization, and we are always looking for dedicated volunteers to help us serve the men and women- and their families – of Wright Patterson Air Force Base,” said Walthers. “The only reason these doors are open is because of the volunteers we have, giving their time and talents”.

The facility hosted 23,000 visitors in its first year of operation, and that number increased to 43,000 in the second year.

“I am honored to be the USO Center Manager at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” said Walthers. “Having been an Airman, a dependent wife and mother of a Solider, managing the center is more of a personal undertaking rather than a job or having a position.” she added. It is my labor of love.

For more information please visit: https://csohio.uso.org/wright-patterson-center or call the Wright-Patterson USO center at 937-904-0541.