National Volunteer Week: Frank and Helen Marsh

Frank and Helen Marsh represent the lifeblood of the USO: our volunteers. Frank served as a parachute rigger in the Marines from 1955 to 1957, and was promoted to the rank of sergeant before he got out. He and his wife Helen found their USO volunteer opportunity through the Knights of Columbus, where Frank has been a member for almost 50 years.

We caught up with the Marshes at the USO Marine Corps Trials at Camp Pendleton, Calif.,  where they handed out energy bars, snacks and refreshments to wounded warriors competing in the archery event.

Birthday Buddies: USO and Facebook Keep Troops Connected Downrange

Troops use Facebook at a USO center in 2012. USO photo

Troops use Facebook at a USO center in 2012. USO photo

Today is the USO’s 73rd birthday. As we passed the cake around at our centers, we realized there’s another birthday relevant to the military community taking place.

Facebook turns 10 years old today. And while you may not see the connection right away, our troops surely get it each time they walk into a center downrange.

Jose, a veteran from San Diego was quoted in a New York Times story today saying Facebook and the USO provided him a connection to his family he couldn’t have made any other way while stationed across the globe:

I have spent the last 13 years serving my country but the separation from family is an aspect that I have never mastered. Facebook allows me to see my children grow up even when I have to be away for my duties. It keeps me from being totally cut off from my family even if I am thousands of miles away with no cellular service. It is a crucial tool for military members and keeps us connected like no other service other than the USO [United Service Organizations] has. Walk into a USO overseas and Facebook dominates the screens. It’s for good reason.

It’s moments like these that count for troops and their families. Happy birthday, Facebook.

USO San Diego Supports Marine Corps Trials

The Marine Corps has kicked off its competitive selection process to find 50 athletes to represent the service at the fourth annual Warrior Games — a Paralympics-style competition for wounded, ill and injured members of America’s armed services.

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Wheelchair racing is a popular event at the Marine Corps Trials. USMC Photo

The Marine Corps Trials – hosted by the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment and supported by USO San Diego – includes individual and team competitions in sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, swimming, cycling, shooting, archery, and track and field. The competition officially opened Thursday.

Four teams – Battalion East, Battalion West, Marine Corps Veteran and International – will go head-to-head for the team gold medal. The international team includes wounded, ill and injured military athletes from eight allied nations, including the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Colombia and the Netherlands.

Every year, the competition intensifies as more athletes vie for a spot in the Warrior Games, a unique event that hosts teams comprised from the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Special Operations Command in a different kind of battle. Although competition is fierce and emotions run high, the trials and the subsequent Warrior Games are designed to promote physical activity, camaraderie and fellowship – all critical parts of the healing process.

“The athletes will learn skills that will enable them to be highly successful not only at the trials and games but in their future endeavors,” said Jennifer Sullivan, who manages the regiment’s Warrior Athlete Reconditioning Program.

The 50 Marines who are selected to represent the Marine Corps will compete against the Army, Navy/Coast Guard and Special Operations teams at the 2013 Warrior Games, scheduled for May 11-17 at the U.S. Olympic Complex and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The weekend’s events are open to the public and free to attend.

“Americans do it right,” Germany coach Michael Weiger said at the 2012 Marine Corps Trials. “Troops are finding support by their families, by the communities and volunteers who are doing this mostly on their own expense. That is a real good morale booster. There are other countries [that] sure can learn from it.”

—Story by Joseph A. Lee, USO staff writer

You can sponsor athletes through a donation to USO San Diego. Click here for more information.

What’s in a Name?

NATHANS PIC

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.

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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.