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Mission2Honor-FB640x640-MONDAY-41116Operation Homefront asked and you responded! #Mission2Honor is our campaign to share your messages of encouragement and thanks for our military and veteran families. Starting today, and every Thursday through May 26, we will share those messages to and from our military and veterans families as part of our #Mission2Honor campaign. Share your own message here…and get inspired by some of the messages going out to those we serve.

 

FROM A MILITARY KID TO THE COUNTRY THEY LOVE:

As a Marine brat, I am still holding myself to high standards of accountability and faith but most of LOVE. LOVE OF GOD, COUNTRY AND FAMILY which continues to give my life purpose. Thank you all three God, Country and Family for loving me back.

FROM A PROUD WIFE TO HER HUSBAND:

I want to say THANKS TO YOU for all your effort, for your work and family dedication. Because every day is different, like every place has different experience, with best, good, and less good moments. But always you have us: your 3 kids and me your wife who always love you. Thank you for being an excellent husband, a best father an amazing soldier you are our HERO WE LOVE YOU!

FROM OUR TEAM AT OPERATION HOMEFRONT:

  • Thank you to those who serve and our military families. I’m the proud daughter of a career Air Force dad — you have given your very best, and you deserve our nation’s best in return.
  • Your journey is long, your patience deep, your constant vigilance is true. From one military family to another… thank you!

FROM A PROUD MOM TO HER SON:

I’m so proud having a son who got lots of courage & brave enough to tell his mom he wants to serve the country. I’ve been missing you so much my soldier but I know you’re happy to what you doing. Always take care & mommy loves you so much ❤️. #ArmyStrongFamilyHooah#ProudMomArmySon

FROM ONE MILITARY FAMILY TO ANOTHER:

A simple thank you is never enough appreciation or understanding for the choices and lifestyle we military families live every day. I say we because I am a spouse of a military member and have three kids who live this life, too! While we may not be in the field or on a deployment, we feel the pain of separation. It makes us stronger people in the end because we share a unique experience. We are more independent and driven to be ourselves. We face criticism from family, friends and strangers along the way do not change our resolve to be the best we choose to be. So hold onto the place in your heart that is stronger than anywhere else and stay humbly by the side of your loved one.

FROM A GRATEFUL CITIZEN TO ALL:

Thank you for your service to our country! Your sacrifice is always greatly appreciated. Godspeed!

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Mission2Honor is a national initiative to publicly acknowledge and thank our military families. Every day, the families of our nation’s active duty, wounded warriors and veterans show their unwavering commitment to support and protect our communities. During the Month of the Military Child (April) and Military Appreciation Month (May), we invite you to show your appreciation for our nation’s military and veteran families by sending in a message of thanks. SUBMIT YOUR MESSAGE OF THANKS TODAY.

VISIT WWW.OPERATIONHOMEFRONT.NET/MISSION2HONOR TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CAMPAIGN AND HOW WE WORK TO BUILD STRONG, STABLE AND SECURE MILITARY FAMILIES.

 

As we entered the eighth year of our Military Child of the Year award, we were reminded that greatness comes in all shapes and sizes. Last week, we welcomed seven amazing military kids, our 2016 Military Child of the Year recipients and our Innovation Award winner, to Washington D.C. They ranged in age from 9 to 17 years old, and as they toured DC, they impressed us with their achievements (and polite manners), wowed their representatives on Capitol Hill, and celebrated with us at our annual Military Child of the Year gala.

If these kids are any indication, the future of our nation is in good hands.

Here is a snapshot of things seen and heard, some highly unexpected and delightful, while these extraordinary young patriots took our nation’s capital by storm.

MCOYplayfulatheart

Playful at heart, but when the need arises, this group is serious about giving back to their communities and the country they love (from left to right, Our 2016 award recipients: Lorelei McIntyre-Brewer (Army MCOY), Christian Fagala (Marine Corps MCOY), Maddy Morlino (Air Force MCOY), Trip Landon (National Guard MCOY), Elizabeth O’Brien (Innovation Award winner), Jeffrey Burds (Navy MCOY) and Keegan Fike (Coast Guard MCOY).

 

MCOYGenDunfordCJOS“The resilience of our families … and our children … is absolutely what has allowed us to do the things that we’ve asked our force to do. The strength of our U.S. Armed Forces, the strength of our nation is in … our military families.”

General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, whose presence continued a tradition of support for our military kids’ ability to prevail in spite of the challenges of military life (shown here at the pre-gala reception with 2016 Navy Military Child of the Year recipient Jeffrey Burds).

 

 

MCOY2016ChristianGoodDayDC“When I see someone in pain or that’s sad, I have this feeling that I have to help them.”

Christian Fagala, age 9, 2016 Marine Corps Military Child of the Year, appearing on the morning show, Great Day Washington, who won his own battle with cancer by age 4 and tirelessly raises money to help kids who are fighting their own battles with the disease.

 

 

MCOYGenPrayandKids

“Each one represents the spirit of selfless service that defines our great nation. They perform at a very high level, while simultaneously dealing with their own particular turbulence — parental deployments, relocations, and the variety of uncertainties that generally characterize military life.”

Brig. Gen. John I. Pray, Jr. (Ret), President and CEO of Operation Homefront (shown here with our award recipients), who greeted each family at a special welcome dinner at Champps in Pentagon City.

 

MCOYCEOawesomeness“You’re the CEO of awesome!”

Ten-year-old Lorelei McIntyre-Brewer’s response to Senator Bob Casey when he looked at her business card for the nonprofit she started (called Heart Hugs) and said, “Wow you’re the CEO? I haven’t been the CEO of anything!” She immediately responds “That’s not true! You’re the CEO of awesome!” (Shown here, left to right, Pete Stinson, Operation Homefront regional director of our northeastern field offices, Sen. Casey, Lorelei and her mother, Chelle.)

 

 

MCOYJohnHeald“What a thrill to be part of such an extraordinary evening. The children … all amazing and a bright and shining hope for the next generation.”

John Heald, Senior Cruise Director and Brand Ambassador for Carnival Cruise Line and our emcee for the evening (shown here with Trip Landon, 2016 National Guard Military Child of the Year), who joked that he thought his title was impressive until he came to our gala event which hosted the highest ranking military officials in the United States.

 

 

MCOYEOB

These past few days have been out of this world. I never imagined that I would have had such a wonderful opportunity to meet people who love volunteering as much as I do. I am forever grateful to Operation Homefront and the Booz Allen Hamilton group for the outpouring of support they have given to me. I look forward to being a future supporter of both organizations.”

Elizabeth O’Brien, recipient of our first ever 2016 Operation Homefront Innovation Award, sponsored by Booz Allen Hamilton (shown here with Laurie Gallo, Executive Vice President of Booz Allen Hamilton and Operation Homefront board member, and her parents Shelbi and Army Commander Sgt. Maj. Matthew O’Brien).

MCOYsponsors

Our event would not be possible without the support of many organizations that sponsored our awards program, including our presenting sponsor United Technologies. We are grateful for your investment in recognizing our military kids and their families.

 

 

Learn more about each of our award recipients.

View more photos from the event here.

Visit our #MCOY2016 tag board to see the flurry of attention given to the kids on social media.

 

 

keegan-fike-coast-guardIn the tradition of many of our Military Child of the Year recipients, Keegan Fike makes time to make a difference.

It would be easy to label Keegan, who plans to pursue a career in the field of mathematics and is a member of the National Honor Society, as a consummate scholar. But his analytical mind is equally matched by the size of his heart.

Keegan found his focus in helping others through the Boy Scouts, and it also provided the opportunity for Keegan to step up and lead. To give back with his Eagle Scout project, Keegan restored five weather-beaten and rusted cannons at Fort Phoenix, a national landmark Fort that overlooks the bay where the first naval battle of the Revolutionary War was fought.

Keegan also has a creative side. The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Boston/New England honored Keegan with an excellence award for a high school media production titled “My Hero Is …,” for which he was a photographer and editor.

A young man committed to his faith, Keegan also devotes time to service at his church.

Keegan has endured 125 months of his father’s deployment and has experienced six military permanent change of station relocations. His favorite quote by Marcus Aurelius reflects a common belief that we see among many of our military children as to what sustains them: “Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” Keegan said this quote helped him to “stay positive,” adding, “All my life, I have tried to be happy and be a reassuring force for my peers. The positive state of mind I try to keep helps me stay focused and be the best I can be.”

Keegan is the son of Rebecca Fike and Coast Guard Lt. Brent Fike of Fairhaven, Massachusetts.

 

This week, we will be shining a spotlight on each of our Military Child of the Year Award recipients, as well as the first ever recipient of the Operation Homefront-Booz Allen Hamilton Innovation Award. Be sure to check back daily or follow us on Twitter or Facebook for updates. In addition, throughout the months of April and May, we invite you to show your appreciation by sending a message of thanks and sharing #Mission2Honor with your friends and family. Follow this link to share your message, or post your own message on social media using #Mission2Honor.

Our heartfelt thanks to our presenting sponsor United Technologies, and all of our 2016 Military Child of the Year Award sponsors, for making this annual award one of the highlights of our year.  Your support allows us to bring the stories of our military families to the forefront, making a difference in raising awareness of the challenges they face in protecting our nation.

 

 

Love of Country.

madelinemorlinomcoy2016Through three military permanent change of station relocations and 32 months of her father’s deployments, Madeleine Morlino has lived a life of giving back to the country and to the community, consistent with the foundational values and love of country upon which she was raised. Madeleine was adopted from China when she was 11 months old. Believing fervently that her family made her life better than it would have been had she remained in China, Madeleine has devoted her life to keeping America and her community strong.

Just about every day, Madeleine accomplishes something for America — one veteran, indeed one citizen, at a time.

Motivated by the challenges her family faced as her father transitioned from the Air Force to civilian life, Madeleine set out to ease the transition for other service members. She conceived, organized and led a job expo for veterans in her hometown. She and her colleagues on the committee that planned the event successfully attracted national and local businesses that were poised to offer veterans meaningful employment.

Driven to share her love of country and inspire others, Madeleine joined with her 18-year-old sister, Eleanor, in creating a Young Americans for Freedom group at her high school. Under Madeleine’s leadership, membership in the organization increased 300 percent from the year before, attracting a diverse group of young people to join the effort to spread the word about the uniqueness of the U.S. Constitution and the greatness of our nation as a whole.

Despite also being involved with student body government, Model UN, and a host of other volunteer activities, Madeleine still finds time for orchestra and cross country running. Perhaps we see a clue to the fuel that fires her in her favorite quote, by Og Mandino: “Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.”

Madeleine’s love of country and call to serve will continue after she graduates, as she is now a member of the U.S. Air Force Academy Class of 2020 cadets.

Madeleine is the daughter of Kerry Ann Morlino and retired Air Force Master Sgt. Leonard Morlino of Moorestown, N.J.

 

This week, we will be shining a spotlight on each of our Military Child of the Year Award recipients, as well as the first ever recipient of the Operation Homefront-Booz Allen Hamilton Innovation Award. Be sure to check back daily or follow us on Twitter or Facebook for updates. In addition, throughout the months of April and May, we invite you to show your appreciation by sending a message of thanks and sharing #Mission2Honor with your friends and family. Follow this link to share your message, or post your own message on social media using #Mission2Honor.

Our heartfelt thanks to our presenting sponsor United Technologies, and all of our 2016 Military Child of the Year Award sponsors, for making this annual award one of the highlights of our year.  Your support allows us to bring the stories of our military families to the forefront, making a difference in raising awareness of the challenges they face in protecting our nation.

Seeing The Bright Side.

christianfagalaChristian Fagala was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 2. He would beat cancer – knocking out the disease with a combination of faith and a determination to see the bright side of things.

Chemotherapy didn’t just present physical challenges to Christian, but also cognitive ones. Despite having a harder time learning due to the effects of chemotherapy, Christian, now 9 years old, persevered and exceeded all academic expectations.

Christian felt the need to make a difference for others facing the same battle he had. At age 4, he began doing speaking engagements on behalf of childhood cancer programs. He has spent countless hours making videos and using social media to elevate awareness of childhood cancer. Christian has raised more than $20,000 in the last few years for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and CureSearch, a non-profit whose mission is to end children’s cancer by driving targeted and innovative research.

His faith has sustained him through hard times. “God hears our prayers and helps us as much as he can,” Christian said. “It reminds me that God can do very big things.”

Christian has also devoted more than 100 hours to homeless outreach. He also finds time to play youth soccer and enjoy a little dodgeball while participating in Scouting.

As a military child, Christian has relocated four times already and has endured 16 months of his father’s deployment. Christian sees a bright side to being a member of a military family, adding “Military kids get to travel a lot and live in a lot of places civilian kids may just travel to. We get to make so many friends from different places and experience different cultures.”

Christian aspires to follow in his father’s footsteps and to become a Marine. If medical issues become an impediment, then he wants to follow in his mother’s footsteps and work for the Department of Defense.

Christian is the son of Diana Fagala and Marine Capt. Justin Fagala of Quantico, VA.

This week, we will be shining a spotlight on each of our Military Child of the Year Award recipients, as well as the first ever recipient of the Operation Homefront-Booz Allen Hamilton Innovation Award. Be sure to check back daily or follow us on Twitter or Facebook for updates. In addition, throughout the months of April and May, we invite you to show your appreciation by sending a message of thanks and sharing #Mission2Honor with your friends and family. Follow this link to share your message, or post your own message on social media using #Mission2Honor.

Our heartfelt thanks to our presenting sponsor United Technologies, and all of our 2016 Military Child of the Year Award sponsors, for making this annual award one of the highlights of our year.  Your support allows us to bring the stories of our military families to the forefront, making a difference in raising awareness of the challenges they face in protecting our nation.

 

 

Guided By Faith.

john-trip-landon-national-guardJohn “Trip” Landon III has touched many lives throughout his lifelong walk of faith. “Faith,” as he explained, “the root of all of my other traits.”

It has served Trip well. Guided by divine teachings, he has excelled in academics, sports, Scouting, the arts, and faith-based service to his community. In fact, Trip’s favorite quote is “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”

“I’ve been raised my whole life to be a Godly man of integrity,” Trip said. “This quote is a simple truth that reminds me how to do that.”

A National Honor Society member with a 3.9 grade point average, Trip is homeschooled for academics and participates in extracurricular activities at Ellensburg High School in Ellensburg, Washington.

As a member of the school golf team, Trip twice earned Academic Athlete honors and was voted Most Inspirational Player. A violinist and pianist, he plays in the school orchestra, performing three solo recitals and six concerts annually, while taking weekly lessons. He also performs at yearly competitions and festivals across the state.

Trip’s talents also extend to the stage. He has performed with numerous local drama troupes in Ellensburg.

His life of principle also translates into leadership. Trip has been an Awana student leader for five school years, leading the Christian youth group on occasion in the absence of an adult.

Outside of the classroom, stage and athletic field, Trip has made his mark in his larger community. As a Silver Palm-awarded Eagle Scout, Trip, who achieved the coveted rank of Eagle Scout before his 15th birthday, led four teenagers and four adults in planning and constructing an archery range backstop, a project that entailed 574 man hours. Having earned the Arrow of Light in the Cub Scouts and an impressive three palm leaves overall in Scouting, Trip has served as a Cub Scout den chief and has led two Cub Scout day camps and two Cub Scout overnight camps.

Sharing his faith and shepherding others is also important to Trip. He has participated in bible camps and has also has served as a Vacation Bible School leader for his church.

Trip aspires to work in prosthetics engineering, a career path that would allow him to help wounded warriors to return to service.

Trip is the son of Laura Landon and Army National Guard Capt. John Landon II.

For the next week, we will be shining a spotlight on each of our Military Child of the Year Award recipients, as well as the first ever recipient of the Operation Homefront-Booz Allen Hamilton Innovation Award. Be sure to check back daily or follow us on Twitter or Facebook for updates. In addition, throughout the months of April and May, we invite you to show your appreciation by sending a message of thanks and sharing #Mission2Honor with your friends and family. Follow this link to share your message, or post your own message on social media using #Mission2Honor.

Our heartfelt thanks to our presenting sponsor United Technologies, and all of our 2016 Military Child of the Year Award sponsors, for making this annual award one of the highlights of our year.  Your support allows us to bring the stories of our military families to the forefront, making a difference in raising awareness of the challenges they face in protecting our nation.

jeffrey-burds-navyThe day before Jeffrey Burds’ mother passed away from colon cancer, she told him, “Do great things in life.”

Jeffrey was nine years old, and he took to those words to heart, devoting his life to making a difference in the lives of others. Now 17, Jeffrey has distinguished himself with his leadership and through his academic excellence through eight military permanent change of station relocations and 66 months of his father’s deployment.

Jeffrey is the very definition of a leader. He is the executive officer of the Camp Lejeune High School Marine Corps JROTC, the boot camp of which he was named an honor graduate in 2013. Jeffrey’s talent for leadership is further evidenced by his roles on the high school’s track, football, wrestling, and basketball teams, two of which he has captained for.

Jeffrey was awarded in 2014 with Most Valuable Player honors in track, Defensive Most Valuable Player in football, and the Sportsmanship Award in basketball. He has also captained his football and track teams. His coaches chose him to receive the 8th Marine Regiment Workhorse Award. The award is presented to “a senior student who is a team leader, shows exceptional character, and is a leader in the classroom,” and was presented to Jeffrey by the commander of the 8th Marines.

Jeffrey has accomplished all of this while maintaining a 3.94 grade point average.

Outside of the classroom, Jeffrey pursues service to community with American Cancer Society Relay for Life, National Downs Syndrome Buddy Walk, Special Olympics, and Semper Fi Fund Outdoor Odyssey.

As he contemplates his future, which may include service to his country as a Navy officer, Jeffrey continues to hold fast to the promise he made to his mother to “do great things in life.”

Jeffrey is the son of Debra Rae Burds and Navy Master Chief Hospital Corpsman Joseph Burds of Camp Lejeune, N.C.

For the next week, we will be shining a spotlight on each of our Military Child of the Year Award recipients, as well as the first ever recipient of the Operation Homefront-Booz Allen Hamilton Innovation Award. Be sure to check back daily or follow us on Twitter or Facebook for updates. In addition, throughout the months of April and May, we invite you to show your appreciation by sending a message of thanks and sharing #Mission2Honor with your friends and family. Follow this link to share your message, or post your own message on social media using #Mission2Honor.

Our heartfelt thanks to our presenting sponsor United Technologies, and all of our 2016 Military Child of the Year Award sponsors, for making this annual award one of the highlights of our year.  Your support allows us to bring the stories of our military families to the forefront, making a difference in raising awareness of the challenges they face in protecting our nation.

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