What’s in a Name?


James Nathaniel Richards

A name is something that you get from your Mom and Dad.

It is something you hear when your teacher calls on you. You hear it when your brothers or sister want help with a chore or they want you to do something. You definitely hear it when you did something that was not good.

“James Nathaniel Richards!!”

You don’t realize how important it is till you miss hearing someone call it. My Dad has been deployed for almost a month. I would really like to hear him.

My sister, Bella, and I take turns getting the mail.

You are thinking, “no big deal,” but we live almost a mile from our mailbox. It is up and down a big hill, so when I went to the mail box and opened it up I was really excited.

There it was: My name!

It was on a big package letter. My excitement went up to Jupiter. Bella and I opened it up.

Wow, it was a book! I love to read. It was a birthday book which was good because it was Bella’s birthday and my Mom’s. The best part was inside the package was a disk with my Dad reading the book. Well, actually a couple of books.

He said my name!!

It sounded really good. You don’t know how important your name is till someone you miss says it! He read the stories before he left and United Through Reading® sent them to us. I think I am going to ask Ms. Diane [from the USO] if I can read my Dad some stories. It is a program they have for parents and kids so you can stay n touch and hear your name!

You can get the info at your USO or online.  I can’t believe we didn’t do this all the other times he was on deployment. Maybe I can read him the newspaper with all the Super Bowl news, or a book.

My mom got me the one about the boy whose Dad died in 9/11, where he left his kid a message. Or maybe I could read him an easy book so Bella could help. I don’t think it will matter what I read to him. I think that he probably be happy to hear me say his name.

So what is in a name? I guess it depends on who says it and how much you hear them say it.

So go say my name Dad!

Story written by Nate-the-Great—A Military Brat
a 9-year-old blogger whose father is in the Navy.  Follow, like and share Nate’s blog about life as a military brat by navigating to http://natethegreatamilitarybrat.wordpress.com. United Through Reading’s Military Program can be found at more than 130 Command locations worldwide and more than 70 USO host locations. — Edited by Joseph Andrew Lee, USO Staff Writer.


Nine-year-old USO volunteer Nathan Richards gets an autograph from Joe Townsend, a British Royal Marine after a track and field medal ceremony where Townsend took Gold in the 100m. Richards' mother, Lorraine, is one of dozens of volunteers from USO San Diego who supported the 2012 Marine Corps Trials in February.

A Military Blogging Community

From the desk of Em Hall, Web Communications Manager for the USO:

If you would have asked me a year ago about the MilBlogging community, I would have asked, what community?  Being new to the world of military nonprofits, I was just beginning to learn about the vast online community that is comprised of and supports the military.  With the recent Department of Defense memorandum issued on the use of social media (officially known as DTM 09-026 Responsible and Effective use of Internet-based Capabilities) and the relaxing of rules governing its usage thereof, the internet has seen a proliferation of Facebook fan pages, Twitter feeds, and blogs related to the military.  I think this is a good thing.

One of the distinct advantages of online-based forms of communication is their ability to provide transparency – to the extent that it’s appropriate and maintains the safety of the Troops – and to react immediately to news and events.  In an age where the average American is probably quite disconnected with the realities of war, providing digital information, images, and videos is essential to remind folks what our men and women in uniform are doing to defend this country.

USO tour veterans Saving Abel performed at the 5th Annual MilBlogging conference. Here they pose with blogger Maja Stevanovich - far right - who won the MilBloggie award for best U.S. Military Supporter blog.

Of course the rules are different for active duty military, veterans, and non-military folks like me, who may or may not work for a military-related organization or company.  But I believe there’s one essential theme that permeates all of these blogs, and that’s the idea that war is complicated and messy, but the people who serve are worthy of our respect.  There’s an air of positivity and supportiveness, even when bloggers are criticizing policy, tactics, or individuals.

I have just now hit the year mark for working at the USO and managing our presence on social media and the web.  I must say it’s a humbling experience, and an honor to do what I do.  With this blog, we aim to provide information on the multi-faceted nature of an organization that lifts the morale of the Troops and their families in nearly 150 locations around the globe.  We can’t tell every USO story, but we can do our best to let you know what we’re up to and how your support makes a difference.

We’re going to keep using new forms of technology and media to communicate with our diverse audiences.  From comments on our photo essays from parents who spot their “kids” serving overseas; to the reflections of veterans, some of whom have been supporting the USO since our very first days; to folks who find us and want nothing more than to support the Troops, whether they personally have any connection to the military: all of these people – and more – are able to engage with the USO in ways that weren’t possible five years ago.

So keep the comments coming on Facebook and this blog, keep Tweeting to us (don’t forget that today is #MilitaryMon), and don’t ever hesitate to be honest and open about the programs and services we’re offering our Troops.  Even if it’s negative feedback, we use it to improve what we’re doing here at the USO.  We’re constantly seeking to improve the ways we tell the USO story.  Until every one comes home.

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