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Touching Base: Inside one of the busiest USO centers in the nation

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SEATTLE  -- In our new series, "Touching Base," we are focusing on our local military and their families, both on the job and in our community. 

This week we’re touching base with military members and their families traveling around the world. We’re taking you inside the USO (United Services Organization) Northwest at Sea-Tac Airport, serving thousands of military members and their families every single week.

On any given night, Sea-Tac Airport is home to an army of travelers - on a mission and in a hurry to wait. 

“Sea-Tac is the gateway for everybody who’s reporting into those new duties,” says Matthew Salt, manager of the USO Sea-Tac Center.

Tucked above the ticket counters, you’ll find one of the busiest USO centers in the nation.

"We’re averaging about between 11,000 and 12,000 people a month,” says Salt.

It’s one of only eight in the world open 24/7/365, dedicated to serving the ones who serve.

“This feels really homey, like really comfortable, like you could just stop and talk to anybody,” says Victoria Ham with the U.S. Marine Corps. 

That’s because USO volunteers like Pat Kelly and Susan Regan are more like family.

“You know some of these kids are young, you know 19, 20 years old.  And they’re going to Japan and Korea, so it’s just nice to be able to be of some comfort,” says Kelly.

“Definitely, like I took a nap in there earlier and it was so nice because I was so tired from traveling all day. I came from Louisiana,” says Ham.

Whether it’s a chance to catch some shut-eye, grab a bite to eat or watch a movie, it’s free of charge for military members and their families.

“We exist on the goodwill and giving of those individuals in the local communities who just want to give back and make a difference and show appreciation to our service members,” says Salt.

“It’s really nice to have the familiarity of it.  Just being able to come back and I know this is a place where I’m going to be welcome.  I can get comfortable and my stuff is not going to get taken. Everything’s really nice,” says Ham.

It's the peace of mind when you’re on a mission and in a hurry to wait.

”It’s the place to be.  I tell everybody there’s only two reasons the USO exists:  volunteers and donations. That’s it,” says Salt.

Volunteers are the heart and soul of the USO and the reason the center is open 24/7/365.  They need volunteers now to keep this work going, so if you would like to get involved, click here

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