USO makes holiday travel more comfy for troops - - The News for South Mississippi

USO makes holiday travel more comfy for troops


Over the next few days, thousands of service members are expected to fly out of Gulfport Biloxi International Airport to spend Christmas with family and friends. The USO is trying to make their holiday travel experience much more comfortable.

For some airmen, soldiers, sailors and Marines, visits with family are few and far between.

"It's just nice to be able to go home and be able to see family and friends after you've been away from them so long," said airman Jeff McFarland. 

To make time spent waiting for flights home more comfortable for military members, the USO offers television, video games, magazines, and Wi-Fi access as well as drinks and snacks.

"It's much nicer than just sitting out in the terminal, the concord. It's more than I expected," said McFarland. "It's very nice relaxing environment. So you can come back, relax, and wait for your flight."

The USO director said the staff and volunteers really enjoy the opportunity to share in service members' Christmastime excitement.

"It's such a special time for us because for some of these guys they may be getting ready for a process for deployment," Director Felice Kelly-Gillum said. "This is the last time that they'll see their family before they go off to deploy."

"So for the USO to be that home away from home right before deployment. Or for some that are just getting home from a deployment and this is their first time seeing their family since they've been gone is just priceless for us."

Some service members said they like getting to interact with others who serve.

"In the end, we're all one team, one fight. We're all doing the same thing," said McFarland. "So the fact that it's a place for all of us to come is very important to me because not only does it bring us together, but it gives us something to look to and know that people out there do care."

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