Our National Guard troops are serving our communities on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic as they deploy across the U.S. to support areas hit hardest by the virus.
Many military members are restricted to base and under precautionary quarantine.
Travel restrictions have interfered with the military’s Permanent Change of Station schedule, leaving hundreds of families separated from their belongings already shipped overseas.
Military spouses with deployed husbands or wives are under particular stress managing as single parents and now dealing with inadequate childcare and home schooling.
Since March, thousands of Illinois Army & Air National Guard service members have averaged 45-day deployments, followed by a two-week mandatory quarantine. National Guard operated 11 state-run testing sites since March, and in mid-July, handed the sites to civilian contractors. In addition to running those testing sites, the Guard was involved in logistics, including deliveries to McCormick Place.
USO of Illinois staff and volunteers were proud to have supported the Illinois Army and Air National Guard deployed to the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis statewide, by delivering meals, beverages, sancks and more, directly to the mission locations. USO also supported the service members at night or during hotel quarantine with craft kits, pizza parties, movie nights, and other morale boosting events.
Hundreds of Recruit Division Commanders (RDC) and staff sailors at Recruit Training Command (RTC) are underway (not permitted to leave the Naval Station Great Lakes) and were not permitted to leave the base for at least 60 days for their own safety and wellness. In response to this quick turnaround deployment, USO of Illinois created USO Operation Celebration. A deployed sailor registers to have a USO goodie bag delivered to their spouse or child for their wedding anniversary and/or birthday!
With the government postponement or cancellation of large gatherings, USO of Illinois has moved all programs to the virtual space.
Virtual Bingo, iRest Meditation, improv comedy shows with Comedy Sportz, Practical Parenting sessions, and other events, kept the military community engaged with USO during the pandemic. In addition to these offerings, USO of Illinois staff have been running virtual events specifically targeted to military youth and military spouses. These programs include:
USO Snack N’ Chat for military spouses to connect via zoom and munch of some tasty treats.
USO Lego Builder Bonanza that challenged military youth to use their imagination to build their own LEGO space craft.
Our USO “No Cost Meals” continue to thrive as we plan drive through USO No-Dough Dinner events. These dinners in North Chicago allow service members and their families to have an evening of rest as the USO provides a free hot meal all from the comfort of the service person's car. Just like our regular USO No-Dough Dinners, our staff and volunteers continue to surprise with special surprises!
New-car dealers in the Chicago area are on a mission to raise awareness and funds for local military and their families. For the seventh consecutive year, the Chicago Automobile Trade Association (CATA) and its dealer members have partnered with the USO of Illinois to host “Barbecue for the Troops” community fundraising events on October 3rd.
Over the past seven years, CATA dealers have rallied their communities to help raise nearly $900,000 to support USO of Illinois programs and services. Let’s make this year bigger and better!
Every dollar you raise will help your local USO provide services and support for the troops and their families.
Join one of your local new-car dealers on October 3rd for a day of great food and fun to help support local service members and military families who need it the most. Can't make it on October 3rd - you can still help!