Military daughter heads Fort Meade USO Center

Melyssa Haubenstricker, the new Fort Meade USO Center supervisor, is the daughter of a signal officer and has dedicated her career to serving service members and veterans. (Photo by Lisa R. Rhodes)

Capt. Valerie Haubenstricker, a signal officer at the National Security Agency, promised her two daughters when they were children that she would provide the financial resources for them to pursue a higher education.

Melyssa Haubenstricker, a graduate of Meade High School and Johns Hopkins University, said she greatly appreciates her mother’s promise and commitment.

“Because of her service, I wanted to do something to give back to her and others who serve,” the 23-year-old said.

Today, Haubenstricker is the Fort Meade USO Center supervisor. She began her tenure Dec. 6.

“I love it. The volunteers make the job that much more enjoyable,” Haubenstricker said. “I’m able to do a lot of different programs and really thrive.”

On Sunday, the USO and Fort Meade’s Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers are hosting a Super Bowl Party at 6 p.m. for single and unaccompanied Soldiers.

Under Armour, a Baltimore-based company and USO sponsor, will provide Super Bowl paraphernalia and UA-branded giveaways.

Haubenstricker said if more than 30 people attend, the USO will give away an iPad mini.

“We’re hoping for a really good turnout and hope people have an enjoyable time, no matter who wins,” she said.

As the center’s supervisor, Haubenstricker manages a staff of 100 volunteers.

Her immediate goal is to increase the number of “likes” on the USO Center’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/MeadeUSO.

“Right now, we have 2,225 ‘likes,’ ” she said. “My goal for the year is 5,000 ‘likes.’ ”

The USO Center offers a wide range of programs and activities for active-duty service members and their families.

The programs include a Tuesday night movie; a bakery bonanza, which provides free baked goods each week; Supermarket Sweeps, which offers free, fresh produce each month; Y.U.M. lunch, which provides a free meal from Chick-Fil-A for active-duty service members each month; and a monthly breakfast for military spouses.

Prior to coming to Fort Meade, Haubenstricker worked as the operations manager at the USO Colorado Springs at Fort Carson, Colo.

She also worked with AmeriCorps VISTA as a first-year student veteran success coordinator in the Office of Veteran and Military Student Affairs at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. There she helped to create a veteran mentorship program that matched first-year student veterans with veteran students in senior standing.

“The program assisted with student retention and was an early alert system for student success,” Haubenstricker said.

As a military child, Haubenstricker said her mother’s example inspired her to dedicate her career to serving military populations.

“She always had a strong presence and a set of values and expectations,” Haubenstricker said. “As her daughters, me and my sister always wanted to live up to them.”

Haubenstricker said although her maternal grandmother did not finish high school, her mother earned a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees and became an Army officer.

“She bridged the gap between generations,” Haubenstricker said of her mother.

A graduate of Meade High’s International Baccalaureate Programme, Haubenstricker earned a bachelor’s degree in public health studies from Johns Hopkins University in 2015.

She focused her studies on serving military populations and disaster preparedness, with a special emphasis on behavior health in active-duty populations and their family members.

After college, she worked at AmeriCorps VISTA and volunteered at the USO Colorado Springs.

As a volunteer, Haubenstricker helped to manage other volunteers and worked in a transition assistance program for active-duty service members.

“I wanted to make sure I was serving military populations and wanted a valuable experience where I could engage with both veterans and active-duty members,” she said.

A resident of Glen Burnie, Haubenstricker is a rugby player and plans to join a club.

She also enjoys woodworking, a hobby she learned from her grandfather who was a carpenter.

In her new position, Haubenstricker is dedicated to serving at the USO.

“It’s a home away from home,” she said. “It’s a place where service members can feel appreciated and have someone to talk to. It’s a place to have fun and relax and have a good time.

“I want it to be a place where they know their work doesn’t go unnoticed.”

Editor’s note: The USO Center is open Mondays to Fridays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 8 p.m. For more information, call 410-305-0660.

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