It was the kind of day that solo-parenting military spouses dread. Not only was I on a cross-country trip without the help of my husband, I was facing a long travel delay, toting a fussy three-month-old baby and traveling across multiple time zones to visit his family, not mine.
These are the trips you are supposed to take with your spouse, not without him.
But there I was, sitting in the Denver airport alone, willing my baby not to cry, balancing two bags on my stroller and wondering how in the world I was going to negotiate a bathroom break.
Enter the USO lounge and its amazing volunteers. Bags stowed, baby held, bathroom break had, snacks consumed and sanity restored.
For many military spouses, their closest experience with the USO is through a situation like mine in an airport lounge.
But since then, the organization has become so much more than a soft place to land or snacks for my military spouse journey.
The USO is more than just comfort; it's also empowerment. From support offered through its centers on bases, to entertainment, to transition resources, the USO has come to represent a partnership in our military community where families don't look for handouts, but rather a hand up.
And that's why I'm so excited to be a part of the USO's Salute to Spouses. Over the last six months, the organization has put the spotlight on spouses as unsung heroes of the military community. It has hosted networking events, appreciation nights and even a care package stuffing on Capitol Hill.
I know military spouse life is worth saluting not just because I'm living it, but because through my work with Military.com I get a daily look into the incredible things military spouses are doing around the world. And thanks to the USO, those outside our community get to see it too.
On Nov. 14, it will cap its six-month Salute to Spouses celebration with a half-day summit in Washington, D.C., where I'll act as emcee. Conducted in partnership with media company Politico, the event won't just feature the kind of entertainment and great atmosphere for which the USO is well known. It's also going to offer a chance to hear from military and government officials, as well as some dynamic military spouses who are changing our community.
Better yet, you don't have to be in D.C. to go. The Salute to Spouses event will be livestreamed across the country on the USO website. In the D.C. area? Register to come to the event and see me in person. You can also get ready for the event by sharing your own story on social media, tagging it #MilSpouseSalute and by following Military.com and the USO on Facebook.
I hope to see you there!
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-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.