Lounge for traveling military members, their families abruptly closes at Jacksonville International Airport

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A well-known resource for traveling military members and their families has closed at Jacksonville International Airport — abruptly.

News4JAX reached out to the United Service Organization, and a spokesperson confirms that they’ve closed their welcome center at JAX.

It’s upsetting for some service members and veterans who enjoyed using this facility.

There are centers at most major airports across the US, and the USO office at JAX has been a staple. It’s been in the center of the airport for decades. It’s been a place for military members, veterans and their families to relax, get a snack and use the internet. But now that it’s closed, the lights are off, and there is a sign that saying, “This USO facility is permanently closed. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

A sign reads, “This USO facility is permanently closed. We apologize for the inconvenience.” (Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4Jax – All rights reserved.)

“My parents live in Mandarin, so I usually stop in,” said Daniel Copp, an officer in the US Army Reserve. “Great customer service.”

Copp was flying in from Hawaii and said he was surprised when he found the lounge closed on Tuesday afternoon.

“I was kind of shocked. I didn’t know why you guys were there,” he told News4JAX. “She’s been open a long time.”

It closed suddenly this week — with no warning. Even airport employees were caught off guard. News4JAX couldn’t reach anyone locally but got a statement from the national USO.

“The USO, like other non-profit organizations, routinely evaluates activities to ensure our resources have the greatest positive impact possible. As a result of our recent evaluation of center operations, it was determined that the airport lounge based in the Jacksonville International Airport will close. We are proud to continue serving service members and their families at installations and communities across Jacksonville. While the lounge is closing, we will continue to provide services, such as support for Dignified Transfers of our fallen heroes at Jacksonville International Airport,” the statement reads.

“I like to go to every location, to check it out, see what they have, rest and relax,” said Daniel Genovese, who is stationed in Jacksonville with the US Navy.

He was disappointed to see the closure, knowing how important it was for fellow service members like himself.

“A lot of the places — like the one in San Diego is closing, too,” he said. “All these places are starting to slowly disappear.”

Volunteers staff the USO offices, and airport workers say they saw fewer and fewer during the pandemic.

While this office is closed, at least as of Tuesday, the centers at Naval Air Station Jacksonville and Naval Station Mayport remain open.

A Jacksonville Aviation Authority spokesperson said JAA had nothing to do with the closure.

Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4JAX – All rights reserved.

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