Military Men and Women Matter with John Falkenbury:
Have you ever wondered how service men and women adapt and grow from service troubles? Or if there was some way you can help to do something that could benefit their lives? Well today we have the president of the North Carolina USO with us, Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel John Falkenbury. He is going to talk with us about what the USO does and how they help our military overcome struggles they are faced with.
John currently lives in the Charlotte area and travels at least once a week to their state office in Raleigh. He is a third generation career military with his grandfather, father and brother also serving. His family has a history of serving during times of peace and war. In 1999, John retired from the Army to take over a family business. Their family business was a nursing home. It was a change of pace for him but definitely the right thing to do. When 9-11 occurred, he felt an urge to volunteer and go back. He had several good friends telling him that he was doing exactly what he needed to be doing at that time. He was currently telling his army story and the military story on radios and television in the Charlotte and Raleigh areas. John heard about how the North Carolina USO was undergoing some changes and their need for a president. He applied and was offered the job in 2009.
The North Carolina USO is the oldest operating USO in the world because of their Camp Lejeune center. In 2003 that was their only remaining center in the state. Since then they have opened nine more centers and a mobile unit. They are one of the few, besides the National USO, that has a mobile unit. All of their funding comes from within the state from the generosity of Carolinians.
The USO, as a whole, has been serving wounded and hurting service members consistently for 75 years now. It is much bigger than entertainment and airport lounges. Many people associate the USO with those things. Their national mission is to connect service members with their family, home and nation. They fill the gap where the military services can’t fulfill. They have multiple programs that help a service member when they enter into the service, during their time of serving, exiting the service and after they have served. The USO works hand in hand with the military. They don’t replicate services because that isn’t a good use of their funds. They will continue to do the airport lounges, the home comings, the send offs, as well as reading bedtime stories to children but more importantly, they have to be there for the resiliency programs, the transition phases and the multitude of other programs they offer.
The USO has an amazing honor support team. If a service member is killed overseas, the team ensures they are treated with respect on their way back home. They make sure the plane is there waiting to receive the casket and the Honor Guard is there to escort the member to their final resting place. If someone is traveling throughout the country, the USO network activates. They communicate between each other to help with the travel making sure nobody is alone.
Among many other things, the North Carolina USO will focus on a service member and their spouse during the time of separation from the military. They will teach them how to build their resumes, dress for success and will do mock interviews. Their goal is to not only educate the service member on getting a job but to also educate the corporate world. One thing they do around the state is hold HR Summits for companies. They want these companies to know the military culture, the rank structure, awards, things that aren’t appropriate to say or ask a military member. They will also offer job fairs to help the member get connected with companies that are looking to hire. The North Carolina USO really goes above and beyond to help our service members transition into a civilian lifestyle.
The North Carolina USO has many programs such as the resiliency program and the reset program. The resiliency program teaches techniques of how to overcome negative self-talk. Negative self-talk can lead to much heavier internal conflicts. The reset program has a resiliency part to it and adds in life skills to incorporate into the home life. Stephen has had the honor of speaking at both programs. When Stephen was at his first resiliency program, he spoke for about 30 minutes. He had a young man come up to him afterwards and said that he really connected with Stephen’s story. That young man also shared that he was planning on taking his own life that night but had changed his mind. The Journey Principles has a goal to help reduce military suicide by 10%. We have locked arms in multiple ways with the North Carolina USO. And each time our relationship gets stronger. In September we are partnering with them to host an event called Light Up the Darkness. The goal of this event is to raise awareness and funds to continue serving service members and their families.
John talks about the greatest struggle in the military with active service members. He says it is operational tempo and declining resources. One of the first things to get cut in the military is the family resources. That is where the USO fills the gap. They are here to help not only the service member but also their family.
As a nation we owe a debt of gratitude to these service members. We have been in a war for 13 plus years now and 98-99% of the American citizens have not been directly affected by it. There is currently 1%, or less, that is serving in the military. And they continue to do so freely and without reservation. We should be proud of our men and women serving for the country.
There are many ways that you can help this amazing organization! They are always accepting donations either online or via mail. 92 cents of every dollar goes towards these amazing programs John tells us about. But money is not the only way someone can help. Giving your time is also a great way to contribute towards their cause. The heart of their volunteers is what keeps this organization going. And one more way you can help the USO is by donating items. For example a company just came into the USO lounge at the Raleigh airport and redecorated. It helps make these service members feel more at home. You can get in contact with the North Carolina USO through their website, uso-nc.org or through Twitter and Facebook. All the centers across the state also have their own Facebook page.
We know that today’s podcast was a little different than most of our others. But we sincerely hope you enjoyed hearing about this great organization and how they help our military overcome their struggles. The USO is truly an amazing organization that has passion and dedication to helping and serving the ones who so selflessly serve us.
Please like, share and comment if you enjoyed the show. Also continue to send in your questions and comments to us, firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next time, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Stephen Scoggins The Journey Principles, and on Twitter, Stephen_scoggin. We look forward to seeing you again on the next Journey Principles!