Story and photos by Devin Fisher
The Rocky Mountain USO at Fort Carson celebrated its first anniversary at the Mountain Post in true USO fashion Sept. 16, showering Soldiers and their Families with an outpouring of gratitude, lunch and an afternoon of entertainment.
Those in attendance were treated to a variety of live music, free caricature drawings, a chance to interact with a few small animals from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and, of course, some birthday cake. The USO gave away Brad Paisley concert tickets prior to the two grand prizes, a Nintendo Wii gaming system and a Guitar Hero video game.
Phil Martinez, Rocky Mountain USO at Fort Carson program manager, thanked everyone in attendance for making the inaugural year a success.
“More than 50,000 Soldiers and their Families have come through our doors (in the past year) … it’s amazing,” he said, noting the facility currently averages between 6,000-7,000 visitors a month. “We want to thank you so much for utilizing your USO.”
He encouraged Soldiers and their Families to take advantage of the services the USO provides.
“We work hard for you to give back, because what you do is important to us,” Martinez said. “You’re first and foremost in our minds and our hearts. We thank you so much.”
Located at 1625 Ellis St., building 1218, the 5,300-square-foot facility is dedicated to providing active-duty servicemembers and their Families a “home away from home,” he said. Everything at the USO – which includes cell phones to call anywhere in the country, laptops for use in the Wi-Fi equipped facility, video game systems, a 14-person movie theater, snack bar with an array of food and beverages and a children’splay room with movies, books and toys – is provided free of charge. The center is open Mondays-Fridays from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and noon-6 p.m. Saturdays.
“I think we’ve exceeded expectations,” Joe Aldaz, Rocky Mountain USO regional director, said of the Fort Carson USO’s first year. “It’s going to be an evolution as we mature and people become more aware of our capabilities and all the programs and services we provide … we are just gaining momentum right now.”
Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. James A. Kilpatrick applauded the USO staff for a tremendous first year at the Mountain Post.
“The USO … has seriously been up and running and moving a hundred miles an hour to provide some good service to our Soldiers and their Family members. We are blessed to have a USO here on Fort Carson – not every installation has a USO – they work extremely hard … they are paying it all back to our Soldiers and our Families.”
Kilpatrick concluded by encouraging those in attendance to spread the word about the services the USO provides.
“(The USO staff members) are great Americans who are here to serve Soldiers (and their Families), and we can’t thank them enough for what they do every day,” Kilpatrick said.
Aldaz noted that the USO, in partnership with the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and the Army Wound Warrior Program, will hold the first national Wounded Warrior Games
May 10-14. The Olympic-style event will be held at the Olympic Training Center.
USO is one of the many nonprofit organizations that benefit from the Combined Federal Campaign, which kicks off Oc