The organization known as the serviceman's friend, the USO, recently moved its world headquarters to the District, in part to be closer to more potential sources of funds.
The United Services Organization, which is operating on a balanced budget this year for the first time in four years, moved from New York City to offices at 1146 19th St. N.W. One reason for the move is to seek new sources of money, according to Michael Menster, USO national executive.
"Funding becomes more important and more difficult in peace time," Menster said. "Because of the tremendous apathy of the American people toward men and women in the military, our public image is important to us. We feel that by being in Washington we will be more visible.
A USO official attributed the slow-down in contributions to the lack of a visibly pressing need for the organizatkon's services, as there is in war time.
"The need for the USO may acrually be more important in peace time," Menster said, because military men and their families do not get the public support they do during a war.
An open house to formally mark the move to Washington was held recently in the headquarters offices. Ten of the 35 New York employees moved to the District,and others are being hired here to fill clerical jobs.
Along with financial considerations, the USO considers the move as one way USO officials can deal more closely with organizations such as the Defense Department, the Civil Service Commission, the United Way, the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and Congress, Menster said.
With the USO "now less the Saturday night dance and apple pie sort of thing," the organization is emphasizing their families rather than entertainment, one official said.
"We put a great deal of our energy into social services because of the need," Menster said, noting that many are underpriviledged and poorly educated. "The USO serves five military and their family," he added.
The national headquarters budget this year is $3 million, which is used to operate the 50 USO facilities overseas and to send USO shows to about 35 countries, Menster said.
"One reason that figure is so low is that we get lots of in-kind and volunteer support," he said. As an example of in-kind support, he said, the U.S. government provides transportation for USO shows to overseas bases.
There are about 50 USO branches in the U.S., and all are autonomous and funded locally, primarily through the United Way and other local campaign contributions.
Traditionally the USO has been associated with such outposts as the pool hall in Guam or the swimming pool in iceland. In recent years, however, more and more of the budget has gone for social services to military men and their families, an official said.
Internationally, the USO plans to further develop programs in family counseling, child abused and educational and referral services. For example, the USO in Korea operates fiancees of U.S. servivemen are coached in American customs and in English.
In Germany, the USO has a similar program in which American service wives are coached in German customs and language. USO workers also try to help get military families together and help them cope with the home-sickness and problems they encounter living abroad.
Locally, USO workers at 451 Pennsylvania Ave. NW and branches at Union Station. National Airport and Andrews Air Force Base arrange tours of Washington, dances, home-cooked meals and other entertainment for soldiers and their families. They also help arrange transportation and hotel reservations.
The Washington center hopes in the future to publish a newletter with information about low-cost entertainment and shopping, said Terri Linehan of the local USO. She said that for what for she calls a small amount of money, the Uso "ks doing something for the military that nobody else does."
Five fulltine employees and four weekend staff aides run the local centers with the help of about 15 volunteers per week, said Linehan. In 1977 the Washington USO receive $110,894 from the United Way fund drive, according to a United Way official.