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AARC Member Tudy Giordano Helps Troops Stay Connected to Their Kids

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AARC Member Tudy Giordano Helps Troops Stay Connected to Their Kids

GiordanoLike a lot of people who grew up in the 1950s and ‘60s, AARC member Melaine “Tudy” Giordano, MS, RN, CPFT, spent more than a few evenings sitting in front of the television set with her family watching the legendary comedian Bob Hope entertain the troops during his annual USO Christmas tours. “I loved seeing the service members’ smiling faces as the entertainers performed,” she recalls.

About four years ago she heard about a USO program at Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport and decided to volunteer her services. “Although there were no entertainers at the USO/DFW, I once again saw our troops’ smiling faces,” she says. “I was hooked.”

DFW serves as one of two ports of entry for troops on “rest and relaxation” leaves. Every day of the week, one plane arrives with soldiers coming home while another takes off, delivering them back to their units. Tudy and her fellow volunteers do whatever they can to ensure the trips go as smoothly as possible. “My life skills have greatly expanded since volunteering at the USO,” she says. “I can move pallets of food and drinks, I have café experience, I know how to organize and plan efforts to feed 3,000 troops returning from Christmas holiday, and I have had the privilege to escort Medal of Honor recipients through the airport.”

Her main area of responsibility, however, is to oversee the USO’s United Through Reading® program, an innovative effort to help ease the transition between home and deployment for service men and women leaving little ones behind. “The United Through Reading Program at the USO/DFW provides troops returning to Iraq and Afghanistan an opportunity choose a brand new book and record a DVD of themselves reading to their ‘little heroes’ back home,” she explains. “The program has been a blessing for both the service members as well as their families; around 1,000 children a month receive books from the USO/DFW troops.”

While she tackles everything from book donations to program promotion, much of her time in the Reading Room itself is spent talking to the troops about the children they are reading to, who can range in age anywhere from a day old infant all the way up to kids already in their teens. The soldiers proudly show off pictures of their children and are happy to have a welcoming ear to hear more about what makes these kids so special. Of course, emotions can bubble over too, and that’s when Giordano puts everything she has into easing the pain.

“The challenge to me and my fellow volunteers is to be able to offer the service member the right words to provide the comfort and support they need to read to the child.” She says all the troops ultimately do end up finding the courage to read, which only increases her admiration for the sacrifices they and their families are making for our country. “I always leave the USO thinking how wonderful those brave troops are, and I continue to be amazed at how little they complain.”

Tudy would be the first to tell you she should be the one thanking the USO for the opportunity to serve the troops, but last fall, the USO thanked her by presenting her with the USO Stateside Volunteer of the Quarter award. She says, “I volunteer with over 340 dedicated volunteers at the USO/DFW and I was honored to receive this recognition.”

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