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Largest USO Warrior And Family Center Opens In Ft. Belvoir

7:26 PM, Feb 5, 2013   |    comments
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FORT BELVOIR, Va. (WUSA) --  After 71 years of serving troops and families, the USO has opened it's largest and fanciest center yet, right here in Fort Belvoir.

USO President and CEO Sloan Gibson says the new center shows returning service men and women that America cares about them.

The 20,000 square foot, two-story, 20-room center has an enormous kitchen and dining area for large groups to gather and eat together.

All counter tops are ADA certified low and hallways are wide to make it easy for people in wheelchairs to maneuver around. It has a huge sports room with three screens and a golf simulator. The center was built on a former golf course.

The building also includes a game room, a family room, and a large computer room and a music room with guitars, drums and keyboard along with a sound board for making your own music.

The USO Center is close to the brand new military hospital and next door to the Warrior Transition Complex, which can house about 400 people.

Col. Michael Gafney who is recovering from knee surgery at the Complex says the new USO center will be a huge draw for the troops thanks to the fact that it's open later, until 10 p.m. and because its proximity to the WTC and the fact that the recovering troops don't have cars.

Sgt. Major Donald Martin who served numerous redeployments and is receiving treatment at Fort Belvoir, said the new center will be great for the young men and women who will use it.

"If they have TBI (traumatic brain injury) or PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) or just not able to get around, this is going to make it very convenient for them because they are able to get next door. "

Ft. Belvoir Garrison Commander Col. Greg Gadson says the center will help families as much as wounded warriors.

"I was wounded almost 6 years ago. My kids were 13 and 14. They're in college now. But they were wounded also. And so, you know, life goes on. Having your family around you is one of the most significant parts of healing," Gadson said.

The center is open to all warriors and their families, wounded or not. The USO has 160 Family Centers worldwide, with Fort Belvoir's now the largest.

There are 12 USO centers in this region, another new one is coming to the Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda.

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