USO Welcome Center breaks ground at Orlando International Airport

Facility designed for military members, their families

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Friday for a new USO Welcome Center at Orlando International Airport.

The USO Central Florida announced donations of more than $300,000 for the facility which is designed for military members and their families.

The 3,100 square foot area will include a living room with large-screen TVs, a quiet space for rest, a children's space and a snack bar among other amenities.

With 700,000 military members expected to travel through OIA in 2016, the area is described as much needed.

"It's comforting to know that you've got a place to rest and relax between flights," Lt. Col. James Nelson said.

The new area has been years in the making for OIA. The airport once housed a USO lounge, but it closed in 2001 after a steep drop in donations.

"We were determined to get one reopened and we're happy to have this reopened at the airport and have such good community support," Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Chairman Frank Kruppenbacher said.

Construction on the welcome center will begin in early March, with a grand opening scheduled for June.

The USO continues to seek donations to fund operation and staffing of the facility.

To make a contribution, visit www.usocentralflorida.org.

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