Giving troops star treatment

The 2010 opening of the USO center at McCarran International Airport was the culmination of a decade of dreaming and planning, a partnership between businesses and veterans to make the travels of our military personnel easier and more enjoyable.

The point in opening the 2,830-square-foot lounge wasn’t to merely do something for the tens of thousands of service members who come through McCarran every year, but to do something great, to provide them and their families with a rest stop that reflected this city’s commitment to first-class hospitality. The USO center has computers, TVs, DVDs, books, comfortable chairs, snacks and drinks and dedicated volunteers and staff.

All those efforts were validated earlier this month, when local USO Director Doug Bradford announced the Las Vegas lounge had been named the organization’s top medium-size airport center in the United States. The honor resulted from the center’s performance in a survey of troops and their spouses. The Las Vegas center had a 99 percent approval rating for friendliness, 97 percent for helpfulness, 93 percent for staff knowledge, 96 percent for rest and recreation, 86 percent for ability to socialize, 93 percent for food provided and 89 percent for quality of information provided.

“To put this in perspective, none of the domestic or international centers scored more than 86 percent in any category above,” Mr. Bradford said in his announcement.

This demonstrates exceptional dedication to the well-being of our military personnel. Certainly, Las Vegas is helping the nonprofit United Service Organization fulfill its mission of lifting the spirits of America’s troops and their families. The USO offers services and programs at more than 160 locations in 27 states and 14 countries, and it stages entertainment events each year for service members around the world.

The recognition means military personnel don’t have to dread a long layover in Las Vegas, and that they’ll leave our city happier than they were upon arrival. That’s priceless.

Congratulations to the volunteers and staff of the Las Vegas USO center for giving our troops a boost and our city proud.

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