By Elaine Rogers Today, as our country celebrates its independence, let us also celebrate our service men and women and their families who stand ready to protect the freedoms that make this country remarkable. For 235 years military families have endured tremendous sacrifice to ensure our freedom and security. In the past ten years, with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, our troops have regularly deployed to the far reaches of the world while their families remained in our communities eagerly awaiting their return. President Obama recently announced that 33,000 troops will return home from Afghanistan over the next year. The Metropolitan Washington area is home to one of the largest military populations in the world. They are our neighbors; their spouses are our teachers, colleagues and business owners. As a community we will celebrate many homecomings - opportunities to express our gratitude to our troops and their family members for the decade they have spent at war on our behalf. As military families ready for the return of a loved one, the USO of Metropolitan Washington will be there to support them throughout what can sometimes be a difficult transition. The USO's role is to lift the spirits of our military and their families and do the little things to boost morale and let them know they are supported and appreciated. We need your help to do that. Celebrating its 70th year, the USO is the way for the local communities - you - to support the troops and their families. Throughout its history, the USO has developed new and innovative programs to meet the ever-changing needs of service members and their families while holding true to its original mission. With state of the art facilities and simple acts of kindness, the USO is a "home away from home" for those who sacrifice to ensure our freedom and security. This Fourth of July, take a moment to honor our heroes in uniform as well as our heroes on the home front. As we head into our 235th year as an independent nation, we must stand ready to welcome our heroes home and support military families. This is how America will continue to salute the finest our nation has to offer. Elaine Rogers is the president and CEO of the USO of Metropolitan Washington. USO-Metro is a private, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization chartered by Congress and dedicated to "Serving those who serve, and their families" in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia. For more information please visit www.usometro.org. The SIGNAL staff wishes all our readers a safe and happy 4th of July. Share your tributes to or plans to honor the military here or at www.facebook.com/homefronthelp.