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USO Exceeds Expectations

Paul and Jan PoolPaul Pool says there is no better way to support military members than making a future gift to the USO. A volunteer, supporter and USO 1941 Legacy Society member, he explains the difference the USO is making in the lives of our service members.

1. Tell me how you first got involved with the USO. What was your first impression?
Army sent me to USO. After I sold my business in '06, I volunteered for Army service. The U.S. Army Recruiting Command battalion commander at the time made sure I was serious and made it his mission to get me in—tried almost a year to get waivers to start me off in Medical Corps but just couldn't work around the age issue. So, he asked me to stay and work with them where I basically became his civilian aide. There were alphabet soup alternatives, but I stayed and worked with them and still do to this day. He left as they all do after a couple years, and I wasn't as active with the new commander but wanted to do more. The Army battalion master sergeant said, "If you want to help us, no one does more for us than the USO." He arranged a meeting for me with the USO Houston director, who was retired Army.

My first event was a big one where the USO and Wounded Warriors brought troops in from Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio. The Houston Texans also helped sponsor this. The event lasted a week and the Texans opened up their training facility, dining and break rooms, locker rooms, etc. to all troops so they could meet football players up close and personal. Then they were on the field Sunday morning against the Kansas City Chiefs. I was there for all of it. Even assigned a "battle buddy" from BAMC and pushed his wheelchair around for a week. Needless to say, I was very impressed. And I was all in.

2. What has surprised you most about working with the USO?
I was not surprised by the USO because I had expectations based on what Army told me. It would be more accurate to say my expectations were not only met but exceeded.

3. What do you wish other people knew about us?
I wish Americans knew the breadth and scope of USO service. I was at a conference once when Sloan Gibson (the former United States Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs) said, "We are in the business of delivering goodness." That nailed it.

4. Have you had the opportunity to see the difference made by your gift or meet any of the recipients of the services you made possible? What was that experience like?
I've met many troops after volunteering with USO. They all benefit from wherever the funds come from. I've worked both airports in Houston then funded the Military Entrance Processing Station center and helped start it up—was Team Leader for four years there. I also sponsor the "Beach Bashes" at my Galveston Island beach home. This summer will mark the 7th year. It is a joy to interact with them and see first-hand the difference USO make in their lives.

I served as Chairman of the USO Advisory Committee for three years so have seen the Houston budget and know how the funds are spent. As a corporate CEO, I know a thing or two about budgets. All monies were spent well and made a tremendous impact.

5. What would you tell someone who was thinking about making a similar planned gift to us?
I would tell potential donors. If you want to help and support active duty troops, then support the USO. There really is no better alternative.

Like Paul Pool, you can make a meaningful impact on our military members by including a gift to the USO in your estate plan. Contact our Office of Planned Giving at plannedgiving@uso.org or 703-579-0845 to learn about your many giving options.

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