Last week, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly visited U.S. troops in Afghanistan. After his trip, he sharply criticized the United Service Organizations (USO) for not sending more celebrities to the country. AP reported:
[T]he cantankerous Fox News Channel commentator told The Associated Press that he’s disappointed that the United Service Organizations “doesn’t put anybody out there (in Afghanistan).”
“I went to thank these guys on behalf of me and my audience,” he said in an interview from Istanbul, Turkey. “As far as I know, the only famous people in the past year were (country music singer) Toby Keith and me.”
At our request, USO provided ThinkProgress with its letter responding to O’Reilly’s inaccurate charges, urging him to “set the record straight.” USO has already sent seven entertainment tours to Afghanistan this year, and expects to send approximately 19 celebrities total in 2007. From the USO letter:
Just through September of this year, we produced 37 overseas tours with 241 performances for 98,000 troops in 14 countries, 9 stateside tours, 15 celebrity education events for military dependents, and 48 celebrity visits to military hospitals. … For 2007, we expect to take approximately 19 celebrities to Afghanistan and more than 35 to Iraq.
If you really want to support America’s service men and women and their families, please set the record straight (both on your show and with the AP) on the work the USO is doing right now on behalf of the nation’s troops and encourage your viewers to support the USO.
Additionally, providing entertainment is just 20 percent of USO’s work supporting the troops. It also operates 132 service centers around the world (including one in Afghanistan) and coordinates amenities such as phone cards, care packages, and more.
USO Vice President of Communications Mark Phillips told ThinkProgress that they are in talks with O’Reilly’s producers to come on the show and discuss the organization’s work. “We’re doing some great work over there, and we’d like folks to know about what we’re doing, and would certainly like to do more,” Phillips said.
Find out more about how you can support America’s troops HERE.