SEATAC, Wash. - Early Thursday morning, hundreds of members of the armed services fly out of Sea-Tac International Airport to Japan, and the USO offers them a place to rest before their big trips.
Officials with the USO say about 250 members of four armed forces will fly to Japan. Many of these service members will live in the country for the next two to three years.
For a lot of these men and women, this means their entire lives are changing.
“I’m excited. I like having new adventures, but at the same time, having a new baby is a little nerve racking,” said Kevin Fletcher.
Fletcher is a Coast Guard veteran. He’s been stationed in different parts of the country before, but this trip is not for him, it’s for his wife.
Emily Fletcher is a captain in the Air Force. She is moving to Japan with not only her husband, but the couple’s brand-new baby, Isabella.
Isabella will turn 3 months old in-flight the Fletcher’s say, and that will not be her only milestone while in Japan. She also will have her first Thanksgiving there next week, something the Fletchers say is difficult on their family.
“There’ll be some attempts at Skyping us in I’m sure,” said Emily Fletcher. “It’s just one of the sacrifices you make in the military, and certainly on the smaller spectrum of sacrifices."
The Fletchers are starting an entirely new life, and they’re not alone.
Many other families are on the same flight to Japan, where they will live for the next couple years.
While making a big move and change can be stressful, the USO at Sea-Tac works to make it as easy as possible.
At the USO, military members and their families can relax before their flights. They can leave their baggage at the USO’s location right in the airport and go out and explore.
The USO also welcomes these military members to stay at their location as long as they want. The USO offers food, places to rest, and even entertainment.
The Fletchers say they appreciate everything the USO offers to them and other military members and families.
“The process is stressful enough so all these small comforts they provide go a very, very long way,” said Emily Fletcher.
The USO is open 24/7.
Most of the people who work there are volunteers.
Organizers with the USO say they really need help with volunteers especially during the midnight to 6 a.m. shift.
If you’re interested in getting involved, you can call the USO at 206.246.1908 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.