USO Celebrates Service Members, Families During USO Experience Virginia Beach 2022
Nicole Hasenwinkel (right) poses at Wave Warriors Surfing Camp with new friends and fellow wounded warriors Raina (left) and Samantha (center).
The Wave Warriors Surfing Camp was so much fun that the participants didn't want to leave the water.
Our opening night event was at Apex Entertainment Virginia Beach and our military members and their families had the run of the entire venue.
Tandem skydiving onto the beach was more than just an exciting thrill. Many skydivers jumped in memory of a Fallen Hero and for a Gold Star Family.
Our first Disk Golf competition for the USO Experience was a huge draw for many top players and everyone had a great time.
The United Service Organizations (USO) Hampton Roads and Central Virginia (HRCV),USO HRCV Outdoor Adventure Team (OAT) and the City of Virginia Beach celebrated service members and their families by hosting USO Experience Virginia Beach (USOEXVB) 2022 from June 1-5 in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, Va. The week-long event consisted of athletic, recreational, and social activities for service members and their families, to include the local community.
The event kicked off the evening of June 1 at the Apex Entertainment Virginia Beach where active duty, National Guard, Reservists, and their family members came to enjoy dinner as well as 24 lanes of bowling, thrilling hyper-realistic virtual reality experiences and over 95 arcade games.
“Our family had a blast,” said military spouse Celita Delton. “Thank you for this wonderful opportunity. With my husband’s extended deployment, my kids have been feeling down. Last night, they were able to talk to others who are experiencing the same. Thank you.”
The USOEXVB 2022 also offered adaptive and non-adaptive activities for service members and their families such as paddleboarding, sunrise yoga, disc golf, paintball, horseback riding, a surfing camp and more. The Wave Warriors Surfing Camp was one of the most significant events for wounded, ill, and injured service members on June 4.
“Today was nothing short of amazing,” said Nicole (Miller) Hasenwinkel, U.S. Navy veteran and Wave Warriors surf camp participant. “I was trying to text my mom about the true happiness that this event has given me, but I couldn’t find the words.”
Hasenwinkel said she was medically discharged but was not ready to leave the military. “I loved my Navy career. Everything since my medical separation has been a battle, every step of the way,” she said. “It feels like my medical care, my education and any other benefits are all burdens to the places that should be taking care of me, and I am just another number. Today, I felt appreciated like I never have before. There were no side agendas for the sponsors or volunteers. I thought I was too broken to ever do something like this.”
“This is exactly why we pour so much of ourselves into the USO Experience,” said USO HRCV Executive Director, Paula Moran. “It is a huge undertaking, but so worth it.”
“Not only do we want to keep service members connected with their families, communities, and the Nation, but we also want to help our wounded, ill and injured service members and their families through the rehabilitation process,” said Moran. “We do this by encouraging sustainable healthy living and adventure to help supplement their rehabilitation through our health and wellness program at the Outdoor Adventure Team.”
Moran said she and the USO HRCV team is already planning for next year’s USO Experience Virginia Beach. “We’re taking the lessons we have learned this year and will implement improvements to make it an even better experience in 2023.”
The City of Virginia Beach also hosted numerous concerts and two movie nights on the beach in coordination with the USO Experience for service members and the public to enjoy side by side. Additional activities the public was able to participate in with the military community included paddleboarding, sunrise yoga, disc golf, beach workouts, geocaching, and skydiving.
With numerous photographers on staff and as volunteers, thousands of photos were taken to document the event. The photos can be found on the USO HRCV Flickr site at: www.flickr.com/hrcv.
We would once again like to thank our many sponsors, donors and partners for all their support and generosity: Deloitte (the official sponsor of Military Village), ADS, AKIMA, Apex Entertainment, Chenega, the City of Virginia Beach, Coastal Hotels & Suites, Mr. Eric Ellingson, GEICO, Guaranteed Rate, Hampton Roads Moving and Storage, HDT Global, JP Jones Wealth Management, Military Aviation Museum, the NFL, Northrop Grumman, Patriot3,Semper Fi & America’s Fund, Skydive Suffolk, Starbucks, Wave Warriors Surf Camp, and Wavy10.
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