War on Terrorism

Friday, January 23, 2009

Deployed Soldiers Get a 'Troop Cave' with Creature Comforts

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 23, 2009 - "Kuwait" and "all the comforts of home" are phrases rarely uttered in the same sentence, but a "Man Caves" makeover at Camp Virginia, Kuwait, will show that sometimes the improbable can happen. The DIY Network TV show regularly turns basements and dens into guy-friendly hang-outs, but a 2,000-square-foot overseas USO lounge was another matter entirely.

"This is by far our biggest undertaking," Tony "Goose" Siragusa, a former National Football League defensive lineman and co-host on "Man Caves," said. "It was extremely special to work with the soldiers in Kuwait, not to mention the selfless men and women we met while working on 'Troop Cave.'

"[We] hope they're enjoying the space we created," he added.

The DIY Network and the USO worked together on the "Troop Cave," which offers an environment as close to the comforts of home the servicemembers will find until they're back in the United States. It has a state-of-the-art movie theater with stadium seating and a new projector; a game area with custom-made consoles, flat screen TVs and new gaming equipment; a lounge and snack area; and a soundproof music room with high-tech recording equipment and new instruments.

It also offers a "United Through Reading" room as part of a USO program that enables deployed parents to read a child's favorite book aloud on videotape or DVD, and then send the taped reading back home. The idea is to keep parents and children connected through long deployments.

"We are so proud to have partnered with the USO on this project," Jason Cameron, the show's other co-host and licensed contractor, said. "Not only did we have an opportunity to give a little back to the troops serving our country overseas, but we also did what DIY Network does best: share home-improvement tips and unique experiences with our viewers."

The project began with the shipment of 20 containers of donated building supplies and furnishing, each weighing more than two tons, 7,000 miles.
Once there, the "Man Caves" crew had plenty of help. More than 100 volunteers participated in "Man Caves: USO Troop Edition," including members of the Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio National Guards.

In fair trade, the show's hosts got a crash course in military life. Siragusa struggled to learn military lingo while ordering lunch and participated in combat simulation exercises. Cameron worked with members of the Ohio National Guard's 237th Brigade Support Battalion, 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

The hour-long, previously recorded special is set to air on the DIY Network on Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. EST.

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