USO’s Red, White & You festival celebrates Coast’s military families

USO’s Red, White & You festival celebrates Coast’s military families

GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - While Josh Dunn is deployed with the Seabees, the USO helps fill the missing pieces.

When he’s here, it just adds to the celebration.

“We sign up for a lot of their events,” said his wife Trish Dunn. “It helps tremendously with the kids and getting us through the deployment and giving us lots of extra things to do, and just having fun and enjoying family time together.”

For him, the USO is like having a security blanket.

“They’re also making sure that people stay informed about what’s going on,” Josh added. “It’s a good feeling for us to know there’s always somebody back home waiting for us to help them out as well.”

This is the second year USO Gulf Coast has put on the Red, White & You festival for active duty service members, reservists, National Guard and their dependents. About 700 people were expected to come out to enjoy all kinds of family-oriented entertainment.

Janina Abreu’s husband was just deployed two months ago.

“It’s challenging, with three kids, it’s very challenging,” she said. “But at the same time, the USO supports us. So, they’re a blessing. They truly are.”

Her daughter Zuhailey added, “They throw like amazing events and like it’s good on a beautiful day like this. It’s fun, it’s really fun.”

It took about 40 volunteers to make the event happen. Among them was Suzanne Siegart. She began volunteering with the USO after her husband, U.S. Army Sgt. Carl Siegart, was killed in Iraq.

“It gave me purpose,” she said. “You know, I just felt so lost at first, because the military is such a big family, a big part of your life. And when I lost my husband I thought, ‘Well, there goes my family’ - until I discovered USO, and they have done nothing but make me feel warm and welcomed.”

USO Gulf Coast Senior Director Felice Gillum said the event will be back next year.

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