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USO Closures Imminent

By: Victoria L. Moore

Date Posted: 1998-02-07

Several of the USO's on Okinawa are in danger of closing their doors permanently. Allegations of gross incompetence from upper management, lack of qualified personnel, controls over equipment, inventories, and racial discrimination top the long list of reasons these centers will have to close.

The Kinser facility, the largest on island, is down to two regular employees after permanently closing their snack bar three weeks ago. This facility has been slowly sacrificed over the past year. Equipment has been transferred to other locations and positions have been eliminated. Company vehicles were used for personal use. One of the Kinser duty managers was quoted to say, " Frank does not care about this USO, all he cares about is Foster."

Letters of discrimination, nepotism and favoritism have been filed and left unresolved by the USO Regional, World Headquarters and the military legal system on island. The military system is said to have no jurisdiction over the USO. The USO on island remains autonomous and impervious to customer and personnel complaints and frustrations. Although management would like to appeal to the public to promote the continued support of island facilities, the management clearly has lost touch with its customer base.

An auditor from USO World Headquarters visited the island to assess the seriousness of the situation. A final decision to determine their fate is scheduled to occur by late February or early March, stated inside sources.

USO Regional Director, Jack Darnell, denied that any on island facilities would close and stated that it was only a rumor. When further questioned about the allegations, concerning improprieties, of upper echelon Mr. Darnell stated that "I have nothing to add."

Our investigations proved the Kinser facility snack bar and Courtney location has been closed for nearly a month. Several minority employees, who were employed for several years, had been supposedly let go due to financial dilemmas and consolidation. When in fact the same jobs that were eliminated were posted, advertised and filled. Other employees were told that their hours would be drastically cut or jobs were in danger of elimination based on the recommendations of the auditor later in the year. Several employees have quit due to mismanagement and unprofessional behavior by top officials on the island. Other employees voiced their disgust at Directors that accused employees of stealing from the company when it was clear that misappropriation of property, and fund was evident by management practices.

Curtis Wright a previous employee of the Kadena facility stated in an interview that when he first took the position, as Logistics Manager, there was no records of property, assets were poorly maintained and some could not be found. Property and equipment was moved from one USO to another without any transfer documentation. Funds were mishandled and mismanaged without any accounting or paper trail.

Major financial backers here on island have pulled their financing due to friction with the Regional Director.

Other employees voiced their frustration with the lack of continuity concerning pay increases. Some employees were receiving pay increases after barely working for the operation for two months while others had not seen pay raises during their tenure with the USO.

Many former and present employees voiced their opinion that, the only thing that may bail the USO out of its current situation is privatization. Competent business professionals need to scrub the entire hierarchy and hire qualified leaders and develop a business plan encompassing the USO mission statement of a home away from home, instead of the current philosophy of "the good old boy network."

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