Having devoted more than five years and 3,000 service hours at USO O'Hare, I know the good that USO's dedicated volunteers do year-round in support of our active duty military and their families. I also know from bitter experience that this good is mitigated by USO of Illinois rules that, on the one hand, welcome military retirees, their adult civilian "dependents," inactive reservists (to include working airline crew with reserve IDs), foreign military personnel and any civilian "guests" in their company while, on the other, denying USO services to recently discharged U.S. combat veterans who, unless classified as 100 percent disabled, find the doors at USO O'Hare slammed in their face.
While there are volunteers at USO O'Hare who defy management by welcoming disabled veterans, most simply "follow the rules" with the result that many among the most deserving of our military community languish in airline waiting areas while two comfortable USO O'Hare facilities often sit largely unoccupied. Pretty sad coming from an organization that touts its commitment to those who have served and sacrificed in its national fundraising campaigns.
Capt. John N. Colas, USMCR (Ret)
Senior Vice Commandant
NW Suburban Marine Corps League