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The United Service Organizations has opened an office in northern Italy, complete with a director who knows more than a little about catering to troops.

The office, near the gate most vehicles use to enter Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, became the fourth USO location in Italy when it opened Thursday.

There are two USO offices in Naples and one in Rome.

Linda Lorenzana, the Vicenza director, comes to Italy after five years running the USO office in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The USO had a presence of sorts before the office opened. It arranged for soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Iraq to receive gift bags and helped bring singer Joan Jett onto base to entertain them when they returned from the deployment.

Lorenzana said the new office would be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays to start off, but could be open more if there’s a demand.

“I was open seven days a week in Bosnia,” Lorenzana said. “So I’m not afraid of long hours.”

Initially, the Vicenza office will concentrate mainly on services for those stationed on base. Those include a lounge with a large-screen television, VCR and DVD player, eight computer stations with Internet, four Xbox game stations and a kitchenette.

Eventually, Lorenzana said, the office will be able to arrange hotel stays and tours. In the meantime, those interested in traveling to destinations such as Venice — a half-hour’s drive from the base via the A4 autostrada — can do so with the Rome and Naples branches via the Web site:

The USO is a nonprofit organization that receives funding from dozens of corporations and private donors. It has more than 100 centers around the world at major tourist spots such as Paris, forward deployed locations and military bases overseas.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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