Camp Fuji USO lounge opens, just in time for the holidays

USO Japan and Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji leadership cut the ribbon to mark the opening of the USO lounge, CATC Camp Fuji, Japan, Dec. 2, 2020. CATC Camp Fuji provides U.S. Forces the premier training facility in Japan, supports operational plans, and strengthens relationships with Joint and Japanese partners in order to ensure U.S. forward deployed and based forces are ready for contingency operations.
USO Japan and Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji leadership cut the ribbon to mark the opening of the USO lounge, CATC Camp Fuji, Japan, Dec. 2, 2020. CATC Camp Fuji provides U.S. Forces the premier training facility in Japan, supports operational plans, and strengthens relationships with Joint and Japanese partners in order to ensure U.S. forward deployed and based forces are ready for contingency operations.

Camp Fuji USO lounge opens, just in time for the holidays

by Katie Gray
Marine Corps Installations Pacific

COMBINED ARMS TRAINING CENTER CAMP FUJI, SHIZUOKA, Japan — Marines and Sailors from Combined Arms Training Center (CATC) Camp Fuji joined installation leadership and members of the USO Japan team at its modest but much welcomed USO lounge opening, here, Dec. 2, 2020.

The lounge comes just in time according to Col. Robert Bodisch, the commanding officer at CATC Camp Fuji.

“Because of COVID a lot of our Marines and Sailors can’t go home for the holidays,” he said. “We have to thank our USO organization for this special day, to provide a little slice of comfort to our Marines and Sailors on probably the most austere base on mainland Japan.”

As a training center in central Japan, CATC Camp Fuji doesn’t have a commissary, full sized exchange or shops commonly seen on other installations, most of which are over an hour drive away.

Combined with the fact many of Marines and Sailors are often here on short rotations and don’t have vehicles, the installation can often feel isolating.

Natalie Rowland, Japan Area Director, USO, credits their volunteers to “provide a relaxing environment with plenty of smiles and a sense of humor and a sense of home for our troops here, during their stay with us.”

As a nonprofit agency, the USO relies on supporters and donations to achieve their mission. “The mission of the USO is to connect service members and their families to family, home, and country throughout their service to the nation,” said Danielle Haley, USO Japan Senior Operations Manager.

Through sponsorship and donations, USO Japan was able to stand up the lounge in just two and a half months. It provides free wifi, internet, beverages and snacks from home, as well as a gaming center where members can, according to the installation sergeant major, Sgt. Maj. Restituto Paz, “just sit back and chill”.

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