USO South Carolina honors long time volunteer with Presidential Lifetime Achievement Volunteer Service Award

April 18, 2023

 In celebration of National Volunteer Week, today the USO South Carolina awarded Janie Gowans with the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Volunteer Service Award. Janie has served thousands of service members through USO centers at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport, McCrady Training Center and the Military Entrance Processing Station at Fort Jackson, since becoming a USO volunteer in 2011. In reaching 4,000 volunteer hours served, Janie has supported numerous deployments, unit family events and provided the USO Reading Program to nearly 1,500 service members geographically separated from their children.

“Volunteers are the lifeblood of USO South Carolina! Janie is the cornerstone — clearly one of the most selfless, dedicated, altruistic people you will ever meet,” said Kevin Shwedo, South Carolina’s Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army and USO South Carolina Board Member.  “There is absolutely no way to meet the daily demand at the Airport without her support.  She brightens everyone’s day, but has one bad habit – she cannot say no to a Soldier!”

Janie received a personalized certificate, a coin and a congratulatory letter from President Biden. “We are incredibly grateful for the selfless sacrifice Janie has exuded over the last 12 years with the USO South Carolina,” said Joanie Thresher, Executive Director, USO South Carolina. “Her volunteer work has impacted the lives of thousands of service members, military families and her fellow volunteers. We are proud to surprise Janie with this prestigious award and celebrate her amazing contributions today.”

“Janie’s big heart and welcoming smile make her a bright light for the USO and a great example of what it means to be the “Force Behind the Forces,” said Susan McPherson, Vice President, Public Policy, Military Affairs & Small Business for the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce and USO South Carolina Board Member. “A true champion for all the men and women, and their families, who serve our great country, Janie’s compassion and servant spirit make her a blessing to everyone she meets and helps.  We are fortunate for her 4,000 hours of volunteer hours which roughly equates to over 300,000 smiles shared and goodies delivered!  We are truly appreciative of Janie’s dedication to USO.  We couldn’t do what we do for our troops without the team of USO volunteers who make every moment count.”

In 2022, 18,858 volunteers contributed globally to the USO mission while serving 1.1 million hours. These contributions extended USO resources by $32.5 million globally.

About the USO

The USO strengthens America’s military service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country, throughout their service to the nation. At hundreds of locations worldwide, we are united in our commitment to connect our service members and their families through countless acts of caring, comfort and support. The USO is a private nonprofit organization, not a government agency. Our programs, services and entertainment tours are made possible by the American people, support of our corporate partners and the dedication of our volunteers and staff. To join us in this important mission, and to learn more about the USO, please visit or follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.