We’re checking in with some of our 2011 Military Child of the Year Award winners about. This years winners will beannounced March 8, 2012. Today, we’re hearing from Melissa Howland, NAVY MCOY 2011:
My favorite part of winning the award was being recognized for doing things that I considered normal. I dealt with what life gave me and made the best of my situation with my health by volunteering. I never did it to gain recognition, I did it because I enjoyed it but it was very nice to have been recognized.
The highlight of my trip to D.C. was meeting the First Lady. She is such a graceful, elegant, strong role model for everyone today so meeting her was a huge honor. It was a very positive experience to know that someone so important to our country was willing to recognize us five young adults for what we do. It was also really valuable to know that the First family of our country supports the brave men and women of our services and their supporting families. I understand she is a busy woman but it would have been nice to have had a bit more time with her. Maybe a five or ten minute meeting with each receipient to ask questions or just talk.
One part of the ceremony that surprised me was how all the representatives of each branch made a point to speak to me. Meeting all these admirable heros in such high positions was incredible but for them to have sought me out during the ceremony to personally congratulate me was very touching.
I had a bit of a different military child upbringing than the other winners, so when I won this award, most friends started asking me more about what it was like having a parent in the military. It made me really reflect on what it meant to be a military child because it had always been normal for me that my dad was in the navy and he was gone for long periods of time. It was always just a fact of my life, but after winning this, I started to realize the difference between my parent being deployed and my friend’s parent going to teach at school. Since I was not raised on a base, I never had the support of other military families going through the same things I was. Meeting the other winners and sharing in their experiences was like an immediate bond I had never known before.
Good Luck with selecting new winners. We all know there are so many deserving military children.
Operation Homefront announced the Top 5 Finalists from each branch on March 1, 2012. Click here to see complete list.