Kellie Pickler Stays Battle-Ready for USO Tours
She's already completed three USO tours, performing for troops in Afghanistan, Germany, Iraq, Kosovo and England, but Kellie Pickler says she isn't about to stop heading overseas anytime soon. In fact, she's already planning her fourth trip.
"I love being able to travel and take a little piece of home to them because so many of them are just really missing home and haven't been home for months -- and sometimes years -- at a time," Kellie tells CMT. "It's good to be in a position where I can provide a little entertainment and break up the monotony and just take home to them."
While she may be the one taking time out from her busy schedule -- including being on the road this summer and fall with Rascal Flatts -- the singer insists she's the one reaping the most benefits from each of her overseas trips. "I think it's such an incredible learning experience," notes the singer. "I've had family that were in the service before. I have a lot of friends that are in Iraq and Afghanistan right now. That's probably one of the wildest things -- to go to Afghanistan and see someone I went to high school with or worked at Sonic with. I just feel like it's a respect thing for my country and for the people serving it. I can't imagine not doing it."
Now a seasoned veteran at heading to the military bases, one thing Kellie has learned is what to pack -- and what to leave at home. "I think the more I do it, the more I simplify what I bring. Like any woman, I always tend to pack way too much. I remember the first time I went out there, I was taking stilettos and all my heels and all this fancy stuff. I got there and I did not take off my boots -- I did not wear heels. I wore my combat boots. I was ready for battle! You take things that are comfortable, that you can move around in, because you're jumping in and out of helicopters and these big trucks and tanks. It's dusty and dirty. There's just a lot of dirt. Comfort is the main thing."
Having previously been inked with a star tattoo for each USO tour she completed, Kellie acknowledges that is one tradition she may not be able to continue. "I don't know if I'll keep doing it because I might have the whole flag on my arm," she jokes. "That wouldn't be a bad thing, but I don't know that I would look very good with a sleeve. I just kind of play it by ear. My first three trips were very memorable, and even if I don't add a star, I'm not going to forget that I went."
In addition to being the opening act for Rascal Flatts' Nothing Like This tour, Kellie is also working on a new album, as well as planning her upcoming wedding to songwriter Kyle Jacobs. Click here for a glimpse of Kellie's busy tour schedule.