WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Chief of Naval Personnel announced Sept. 28 that United Service Organization (USO) Guam is the Department of Defense recipient of the calendar year 2016 Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher Distinguished Civilian Humanitarian Award.
USO Guam consists of five staff and 120 volunteers who gave more than 19,000 hours in support of nearly 48,000 visits from service members and their families in 2016. The group conducted more than 100 events, each providing support and assistance to stationary, deployed, and transitioning members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
"We love and appreciate all service members and families who walk through our doors at USO Guam, "said Leigh Leilani Graham, Area Director for USO Guam. "They deserve the very best we have to offer in hospitality and appreciation, because the lives they lead in service to our great nation require emotional and physical sacrifices beyond compare. They are the reason we enjoy the freedoms we value as Americans, and are the indomitable force that protects our country. They are the true humanitarians whom it is our privilege to serve."
Located in the Asia-Pacific region, Guam is home to more than 12,000 service members and families. USO Guam opens every day, including holidays, to deliver on its mission of connecting service members with family, home and country throughout their service to the nation.
In 2016, USO Guam provided deployed troop care for nearly 3,000 service members following a six month deployment cycle and conducted four pre deployment events, including 16 "United through Reading" campaigns and 30 "With You all the Way!" kit distributions for children of deploying personnel. Furthermore, USO Guam conducted multiple donation drives, collecting more than 3,800 items valued at nearly $14,000, and hosted seven performances for the USO Show Troupe from New York City for more than 400 service members, their families and military leadership on the island.
For the holiday season, approximately 900 service members and their families took part in USO Guam's annual Home for the Holidays Thanksgiving dinner. The organization also supported 200 children through a "Memories with Santa" Christmas party and provided two Christmas meals to 200 deployed service members.
USO Guam is known for its 5,000 square foot center in the heart of Guam's tourism district where up to 2,000 service members stay in local hotels daily. A new center at Andersen Air Force Base opened in September of this year to accommodate the growth in military personnel on the island.
USO Guam was the recipient of the 2016 National Guard Association of the United States Patrick Henry Award for their support of National Guard members, received the Governor's Award from the Governor of Guam in 2014 was rated the top Pacific Region USO center in 2013, 2014 and 2015.
"USO Guam deeply thanks the Fisher House Foundation for establishing this prestigious award, Joint Region Marianas for nominating USO Guam, the U.S. Navy for selecting us as their nominee, and the Department of Defense for naming us as the recipient, Said Graham. "This honor will live in our hearts from this day forward."
The ceremony is scheduled at the Pentagon on Oct. 20.
The Fisher award was established in 1996 by the Department of Defense in honor of Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher. The award is a service-wide recognition of a private sector individual or organization that demonstrates exceptional patriotism and humanitarian concerns for service members and their families.
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