USO Fundraises to Salvage Fleet Week

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Richard M. Wolff(NEW YORK) -- It’s not the Air Force holding a bake sale to buy a bomber, but the United Services Organization is holding a fundraiser to keep Fleet Week afloat after it was torpedoed by sequester cuts.

The USO sent out its fundraising pitch email this week.

In light of across-the-board spending cuts mandated in the sequester, the Defense Department has said the Armed Forces cannot spend money on outreach opportunities like Fleet Week, the time each May when members of the Marines, Navy and the Coast Guard come ashore in coastal cities to celebrate with civilians and give shows to the public. The event was originally scheduled for the week of Memorial Day.

“Will we allow this opportunity to demonstrate America’s support of our men and women in uniform pass us by?” retired Col. Jack Jacobs asked readers in the email for the USO. “Not on our watch!”

The email pledges that the organization will “keep the spirit of Fleet Week alive” and “make our military appreciation and Memorial Day events better than ever before.”

“Although the sequester has created a large gap to close, with YOUR help – we can do it!” Jacobs wrote.

USO of Metropolitan New York hopes to raise $75,000 in donations to host events between Armed Forces Day and the week of Memorial Day.

Supporting the troops and military families is a year-round endeavor that involves hundreds of events annually, according to Gayle Fishel, director of media relations for the USO.

“While we do not know what events are tied to sequestration, it is clear that today’s environment makes the services and programs that the USO provides even more important,” Fishel told ABC News in an email Wednesday. “Fleet Week in New York City is one of the many ways, and an important way, we support the troops and families and continue to be always by their side.”

The Navy and Air Force both cancelled all shows for their flight demonstration teams, the Blue Angels and the Thunder Birds, for the rest of the fiscal year, citing sequestration as the cause for the cuts.

Fort Bragg, a major American Army base in North Carolina, was forced to cancel its Independence Day celebration because of the cuts as well.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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