The USO was formed in response to a request from President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1941, who determined it would be best if private organizations handled the on-leave recreation of the rapidly growing U.S. armed forces. Roosevelt’s call to action led six civilian agencies to coordinate their civilian war efforts and resources to form a new organization—the USO (United Service Organizations). The six civilian agencies were the Salvation Army, Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), National Catholic Community Services, National Travelers Aid Association and the National Jewish Welfare Board. Today, as always the USO is a private, nonprofit organization, supported entirely by private citizens and corporations.
Throughout World War II until today, during every conflict, the USO is the channel for community participation during every war effort and peacetime. In hundreds of communities, local USO Centers are a “Home Away from Home,” supporting them via a variety of morale and quality of life programs. In 1979, President Carter disbanded the original six membership of the original USO organization, by request, on December 20, 1979. Greater Jacksonville Area USO was immediately established as an Independent Chartered Affiliate USO Organization on December 21, 1979. For almost 34 years, Jacksonville Florida’s three local USO Centers in Duval County (Mayport USO Center, Naval Air Station Jacksonville USO Center, and the Jacksonville International Airport USO Welcome Center) have served our 250,000-plus active duty military population by offering the many programs of support to improve their quality of life and create that “Home Away from Home” environment in each of our Centers hosting thousands of visitors each year.