It was a celebration at the grand opening of the USO Alaska Center. The USO brought an atmosphere of warmth to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

The organization has had ties with Alaska dating back to World War II, and just today they established a long-lasting presence.

"We have history that ties back to a USO club here in 1941 in Anchorage as well as other cities throughout the state of Alaska. So it's kind of neat to come full circle now and to be able to plant a permanent flag here based out of JBER," said Tara Mogan, USO Alaska Center Director. 

USO Alaska has opened a center along with a first-ever wellness center to provide service members with a healthy lifestyle and an outlet to escape.

"They can get on the computer, they can get on Facebook, check their e-mail. That's something we take for granted but they don't always have that option in their dorms here," said Mogan, "they can get on the video games if they want to play XBOX One, if they want to play Playstation 4, that's a nice release."

A release the USO has been providing to the military for 75 years. They hope to bring to JBER what they've been able to bring to U.S. active duty service members across the country and overseas.

"I just got back from a trip to Afghanistan where we have four centers, and you see the soldiers sitting there, and it's around Christmastime, and they're doing things like baking gingerbread houses and things like that. It's their way of connecting back to family, home, and country. That's what we do here and that's what we'll do in Alaska," said J.D. Crouch, CEO and President of USO.

And for some who have been overseas, the new USO Alaska Center brings back old memories.

"When I was in Afghanistan for a year the USO left such an impact on me because it was sort of a taste of home when you're in a very austere environment, and though this is not as austere as Afghanistan obviously, they do bring a touch of home and some other resources here to Alaska that ordinarily see in an installation," said Col. Bruckbauer, JBER Commander.  

USO Alaska hopes to continue the mission of keeping service members connected to family, home, and country. 

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