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Army veteran, UMSL manager Karen Pierre joins USO board

The items on the shelves and walls of Karen Pierre’s office in Woods Hall hint at a lifetime of stories. A familiar face on campus, the manager of community relations spent nearly 22 years in the U.S. Army before joining the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

“This is the Women in Military Service Memorial in Arlington,” Pierre says, pointing at a framed photo from 1997. “It’s the only major national memorial honoring women who have served in our nation’s defense during all eras and in all services. The goal is to register all military women to preserve their history. When I meet a veteran, the first thing I ask is, ‘Are you registered?'”

Her own Army career – one that landed her in Italy, South Korea and Germany among other locations – is long behind her. But the military still impacts her life, most recently as a new member of the advisory board for the USO of Missouri, Inc. She was nominated for the seat and officially named to the board in November 2014.

Pierre served more than two decades in the U.S. Army, retiring in 1998.

“It’s funny to come full circle,” says Pierre, who fondly remembers USO (United Service Organizations) events she attended while stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., herself in the mid-1990s.

The main USO of Missouri location is at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, where Pierre enjoyed greeting soldiers headed home for the holidays in December.

“It’s a big coordinated effort, with over 1,000 volunteers,” Pierre says. “It’s emotional.”