WASHINGTON (NNS) -- During the Fourth Annual Military Child of the Year Awards Gala the five recipients of this year's Military Child of the Year Awards were presented with their awards by senior leadership of each branch of service at the Ritz Carlton in Washington D.C. April 5.
Keynote speakers during the ceremony included Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey and Medal of Honor recipient Sammy Davis.
"I think that our military kids are who they are because of the hardships, the moves, and their adaptability," said Dempsey. "One of the things that sets us apart is that our kids become who they are because of what we ask them to do and because of what they see us do."
Jim Knotts, President and CEO of Operation Homefront said that these children are honored because of their contributions to their communities.
"The sons and daughters of America's service members learn what patriotism is at a very young age," said Knotts. "Children in military families demonstrate leadership within their families and within their communities. This is what the Military Child of the Year Award honors."
Each year one child from each branch of service is chosen as the military child of the year. This year's Military Child of the Year for the Navy, 9 year old James "Nate" Richards, was presented with his award by Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert.
"I am so proud of our military kids for their resilience, strength of character, and unselfish service to our nation," said Greenert. "Nate's father and three brothers all serve on active duty as a part of our Navy-Marine Corps team. He and his family are special people and we are so fortunate to have them on our team."
Richards was chosen from a pool of 1,000 nominees by a committee made up of active duty military personnel, Family Readiness Support Assistants, teachers, military mothers, and community members.
At one time Richards' three brothers and his father were deployed simultaneously. To help him deal with the difficulty of their absence he started a blog entitled "natethegreatamilitarybrat" (http://natethegreatamilitarybrat.wordpress.com/) where he shared his wisdom about being a child in a military family.
"It was hard because my brothers took care of me when my dad was gone, and then everyone was gone," said Richards. "I wrote the blog so my friends could see what it was like."
Richards said that being chosen as this year's Navy Military Child of the Year has been a cool experience.
"This has been awesome," said Richards. "My favorite part was coming up on stage and receiving my award and also hearing Mr. [Sammy] Davis [Sgt. 1st Class (Ret.)] play the harmonica."
Richards had some advice for other military children who may have family members deployed.
"Think about something else," said Richards. "Read a book or a book series and try not to listen to the news about where your person is deployed to."
He also had a message for his father and his brothers.
"I want to tell my brothers and my dad that I love and miss them and hope they come back soon," he said.
Operation Homefront provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of our service members and wounded warriors. A national nonprofit, Operation Homefront leads more than 4,500 volunteers across 23 chapters and has met more than 590,000 needs since 2002. A four-star rated charity by watchdog Charity Navigator, nationally, 94 percent of total revenue donated goes directly to support service members and their families.