Elaine Rogers has spent 40 years as the chief executive officer of USO Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore, and this year she can add one more accolade to her resume: Honorary Sergeant Major of the Army.
Rogers is the fourth Honorary SMA, as well as the first woman and non-veteran. Her work with service members and veterans earned her this year’s award, which she’ll receive during an Oct. 8 luncheon at the annual AUSA meeting in Washington, D.C.
“The Honorary SMA was conceived as a way to, once a year, recognize a person who has demonstrated extraordinary dedication and a life-long commitment to serving soldiers, NCOs, officers and their families,” according to Master Sgt. Tyrone Marshall, spokesman for Sergeant Major of the Army Dan Dailey. “The SMA consults with former SMAs and current Army leadership to make the determination as to who will be honored.”
Rogers is credited with growing the USO-Metro’s budget from $100,000 to $14 million and its volunteer ranks from 50 to 1,200 over her four-decade tenure, according to her bio, with 90 cents of every dollar donated going straight into services for troops and veterans.
Celebrities and athletes probably know to expect the unexpected while on USO tours. But being taken down by an Italian security dog probably isn’t high on the list.
Past Honorary SMAs include: retired Gen. Frederick Kroesen, a former Army vice chief of staff; retired Lt. Gen. David Grange, Jr., a World War II hero listed in the Ranger Hall of Fame; and retired Gen. Gordon Sullivan, a former Army chief of and former president of AUSA.