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Last year’s recipients enjoy their moment in the spotlight. We can’t wait to see who the torch will be passed to in April in Washington, D.C.

Here at Operation Homefront, the New Year doesn’t just bring with it the anticipation of what can be but also the excitement of Military Child of the Year award season.

For the past 8 years, we have been amazed and inspired by the stories of thousand of military children and how they demonstrate resilience and strength of character, and leadership within their families and within their communities. All while facing of the challenges of military life.

In short, we have our work cut out for us.  And it begins in earnest today with the announcing our semifinalists for the 2016 Military Child of the Year® Award. So without further ado, here they are:

 

ARMY

Mary T., 17, Wahiawa, Hawaii

Elissa N., 16, Sparta, Wis.

Hunter H., 14, Lansing, Kan.

Emalee H., 17, Elizabethtown, Ky.

Asia H., 12, West Point, N.Y.

Lorelei M., 10, Duncannon, Pa.

Jaccob H., 15, Saucier, Miss.

Gabrielle L., 17, Shavano Park, Texas

Hannah J., 17, Valrico, Fla.

Olivia D., 18, Hattiesburg, Miss.

Amari M., 15, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Elizabeth O., 17, Aberdeen, N.C.

Jennifer L., 17, Enterprise, Ala.

Paris S., 8, Cameron, N.C.

Antoinette K., 10, Vine Grove, Ky.

 

MARINE CORPS

 Carson B., 17, Virginia Beach, Va.

Summer L., 17, Kailua, Hawaii

Christian F., 9, Quantico, Va.

Peter B., 18, Havelock, N.C.

Grace F., 17, Swansboro, N.C.

Haylee M., 12, San Diego, Calif.

Matthew C., 17, Jacksonville, N.C.

Caitlyn T., 14, Quantico, Va.

Cherita W., 17, Virginia Beach, Va.

GaBryella D., 13, Temecula, Calif.

Jewell D., 15, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Madison A., 13, Fredericksburg, Va.

Jenna A., 12, Houston, Texas

Jackson B., 16, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

 

NAVY

Elizabeth E., 15, Mc Donald, Pa.

Mariah W., 17, New Bern, N.C.

Isabelle R., 11, Jamul, Calif.

Evan P. 17, Phoenix, Ariz.

Benedict C., 17, Coronado, Calif.

Victoria B., 17, Gulf Breeze, Fla.

Jeffrey B., 17, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Michael J., 17, Stafford, Va.

Benjamin P., 17, Lakeland, Tenn.

Samantha R., 18, Fleming Island, Fla.

Alexsandra C., 17, Springfield, Va.

Adriel M., 17, O Fallon, Ill.

Gavin M., 18, Virginia Beach, Va.

Ty B., 14, FPO, AE, Rota, Spain

Sydney C., 8, Jacksonville, Fla.

 

AIR FORCE

Madeline G., 18, Springfield, Va.

Grace R., 11, APO, AE, Ramstein, Germany

Bethany S., 18, Beale AFB, Calif.

David Z. , 17, San Antonio, Texas

Lacey L., 17, Milton, Fla.

Bridget R., 17, Burke, Va.

Caroline S., 10, Las Vegas, Nev.

Jordyn M., 9

Makayla J., 9, Ruther Glen, Va.

Jamal B., 17, Hill AFB, Utah

Hailie W., 16, Gulf Breeze, Fla.

Madeleine M., 17, Moorestown, N.J.

Tristan T., 15, Sahuarita, Ariz.

Alyssa O., 16, Panama City, Fla.

Matthew N., 17, Spokane, Wash.

 

COAST GUARD

John M., 17, Annapolis, Md.

Spenser R., 18, Davie, Fla.

Chase M., 17, McLean, Va.

Kievon B., 15, Lodi, N.J.

Jessica P., 17, West Seneca, N.Y.

Gabriel N., 13, Bennington, Vt.

Jackson H., 15, Jacksonville, Fla.

Keegan F., 17, Fairhaven, Mass.

Jessie P., 16, Bayamon, Puerto Rico

Liam C., 13, New Orleans, La.

Olivia K., 18, Grangeville, Idaho

Kylie M., 14, Trenton, N.J.

Ashley F., 17, Warrenton, Ore.

Qur’Annah J., 17, Frankfort, Ill.

Giavanna V., 10, Mystic, Conn.

 

NATIONAL GUARD 

Joshua T., 15, Rolla, Mo.

Michelle G., 18, Green Cove Springs, Fla.,

Tymber L., 18, Lincoln, Neb.

John L., 17, Ellensburg, Wash.

Madeline N., 18, Mount Pleasant, S.C.

Nathan M., 17, Orange Park, Fla.

Mya K., 18, Yorba Linda, Calif.

Lily M., 14, Portland, Ore.

Sarah B., 17, Glen Carbon, Ill.

Molly F., 15, Pickerington, Ohio

Madison O., 9, Pembroke, N.H.

Sydney L., 17, Lincoln, Neb.

Jodi J., 17, Pleasant Grove, Utah

Amelia B., 15, Saint Augustine, Fla.

Jordan G., 8, Virginia Beach, Va.

 

So now that we have our 90 semifinalists, what’s next?

Each semifinalist will be interviewed by a team selected by Operation Homefront staff. Award recipients will be chosen by a panel of judges, to include senior retired service members, senior spouses, members of Operation Homefront’s board of directors, and other leaders in the military support community.

The top 5 finalists from each branch will be announced in February.  Winners will be announced in March and then on to the big gala in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 2016.

This year, the gala will present the inaugural Booz Allen Hamilton Innovation Award for Military Children. The Booz Allen Innovation Award for Military Children will go to a military child who has designed a bold, creative solution to address a local, regional or global challenge. With a new invention, improvement to existing technology, creation of a new nonprofit or community service group or expansion of an existing membership organization, the winner will show the power of innovative thinking. Booz Allen will award a grant to the winner and host the winner at the Booz Allen Innovation Center in Washington, D.C. Additionally, Booz Allen employees will assist the winner in helping to scale or advance the project.

In the meantime, you can learn more about the Military Child of the Year Award and read about our past recipients at www.militarychildoftheyear.org.  Or check our pictures from last year’s festivities here.

Congratulations to all of our Military Child of the Year semi-finalists! Great job!

 

 

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 Nine deployments. Cross country moves. Injuries and surgeries. Stronger for it all.


Nine deployments. Cross country moves. Injuries and surgeries. Stronger for it all.

A study on military children that was published late summer in the JAMA Pediatrics of public-school children in California raised a few alarms. The study found that military kids were more prone to risky behaviors when compared to their civilian peers.

In response to the media coverage of the study, several military support organizations took issue with the negative portrayal of military children. It was in this conversation that I stumbled on ScoutComms account executive (and military brat herself) Margaret Clevenger’s piece on “We’re Having The Wrong Conversation About Military Brats.”  Clevenger points out in her essay that military life engenders many positive qualities in the children of those families. Adaptability, maturity, and resilience.

They are also the qualities that have served my three children well through years of Dad’s deployments, his injury and multiple surgeries and the years of transition that followed when he could no longer continue his service.

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Been there, done that…have a system.

 

A month ago, we dropped our oldest Navy brat daughter off at college. Among the glorious mess of boxes and general confusion, a sort of calm in the storm presided. Our daughter was a machine setting up her room and making it her own. Any call of “Oh, we should have brought…” was met with “We have one!” Her roommate’s Mom shook her head in amazementand commented about how organized and prepared she was. PCS skills for the win!

Conversations we have with her are full of excitement and an eagerness and joy at taking on this latest chapter in her life. She talks about the people she has met as if she has known them all of her life. On multiple occasions, she has referred to her college as “home.”

 

I firmly believe that she is adjusting as well as she is because of our time as a military family. The adaptability, maturity, and resilience, sprinkled with a little bit of wanderlust are serving her well. She isn’t caught up in the change, but the possibilities.

But, she is still young and on her own for the first time. So there are calls and texts. Sometimes, while she is walking to class and just wants someone to talk to. Sometimes, she needs a little reassurance she is on the right track navigating her new life. Sometimes, she just wants to hear Mom’s voice.

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Wherever they go, military children embrace the possibilities despite the challenges. (The author’s daughter at her new home away from home)

The issue isn’t that she has some anxiety or fear, or even that she occasionally misses Mom and Dad, her siblings or the cats. She will experience stress and possible missteps and a failure or two. That’s to be expected. Of note is that she knows what to do when she does feel and experience those things. She has learned to cope, and is secure in the knowledge that someone has her back. These skills she learned as a military child. You might say it is trial by fire.

The challenges that military families and their children face are not insignificant, and can result in issues such as anxiety and behavior problems. This is true. Kids are kids, and how they react to circumstances out of their control is influenced by their individual gifts and experience. In fact, quite a bit of what occurs in a military child’s life is out of their control. Moves and deployments are going to happen. Goodbyes and separations from loved ones hurt. Military kids can experience a lot of those. But for every child that struggles with the stress of these factors, still others use the obstacles as fuel for growth and achievement.

Studies like the one stated above are important. They pinpoint issues that may need further study. But as Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, director of the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University stated in the Wall Street Journal article on the study, “The fact that military and nonmilitary kids are different is certainly meaningful,” she said. “But we don’t know what it might be about military experience that’s producing these differences.”

Perhaps what helps military children succeed is simple: strong, secure and stable families and a community that cares. To a one, every successful military child that I know has that going for them. Somewhere out there is the answer, and the answer may be found in the stories of the military children that are doing extraordinary things under extraordinary circumstances.

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Every year, Operation Homefront tries to bring awareness to the other side of the conversation through the Military Child of the Year Award®. The qualities Clevenger speaks of are the ones we’ve come to know well as we enter the eighth year of this program designed to celebrate military kids and their incredible achievements and contributions to their communities.

 

 

Help them have the right conversation about military kids. Nominations for Operation Homefront’s Military Child of the Year Award® open October 15, 2015. You can learn more about the program at www.militarychildoftheyear.org

Other resources to help military children achieve:

Military Child Education Coalition

Syracuse University Institute for Veteran and Military Families

National Military Family Association

Military One Source

 

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By Cavan McIntyre-Brewer, 2015 Army Military Child of the Year

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Army Vice Chief of Staff, General Daniel Allyn, presents the Army Military Child of the Year award to Cavan.

Operation Homefront gave me the opportunity of a lifetime. I was honored with a 2015 Military Child of the Year award, along with five other military kids, and had the chance to travel to our nation’s capital and meet some of the people who keep this country safe. Operation Homefront probably didn’t realize it, but they actually granted one of my life dreams: to see the Greensboro Lunch Counter at the National Museum of American History.

Last summer I got to see Stanley Nelson, Jr.’s production of Freedom Summer, a documentary of the attempt to register as many African Americans in Mississippi as possible in 1964. The movie changed me. It made me ask questions about the history of our country and challenged me to look at the world in a different way. One of the moments in history that it depicted was the sit-in by college students at a Woolworth’s store in 1960. The courage of those young black men helped build confidence in people all over the country to make strides for equality for everyone. Their willingness to make a statement that they were Americans who deserved the same rights as white people showed me that our country may not be perfect, but we live in a place where citizens can take a stand and bring about change. Their ambition gave me motivation to continue my efforts to connect the community to those who serve.

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The lunch counter at the F.W. Woolworth store in Greensboro, North Carolina (Courtesy National Museum of American History).

Seeing that counter in real life was the perfect way to remind me that being chosen as the Military Child of the Year for the Army wasn’t just about me, but about the work that I still need to do in order to make improvements for our veterans and wounded warriors. It would have been too easy to get swept up in all of the ceremonies and excitement, but Operation Homefront did a great job showing us why we are like those college students who sat at the Woolworth’s counter in 1960. We travelled around Washington, D.C., visiting the service memorials of our great nation. This provided a reminder that the great honor of being chosen as a Military Child of the Year is also a great responsibility.

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Cavan (right) and his fellow Military Child of the Year 2015 recipients in D.C., April 2015.

Each one of the military kids that was recognized is forging a special path that will create change for our country, and our serving parents are like the volunteers involved in the Freedom Summer, willing to sacrifice everything to ensure that all Americans are able to have the freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. That is a lot of pressure for all of us, but I am up to the challenge, and I am sure that the other kids honored along with me will also do a great job. Thank you so much, Operation Homefront, and everyone else who made my time in Washington D.C. a great memory. I will never be able to thank you enough.

Operation Homefront is pleased to present the Military Child of the Year® Award to outstanding military children who demonstrate resiliency, leadership and achievement. Recipients representing each service branch are recognized at a Washington, D.C. Gala celebration in April each year. The seventh annual awards gala was held April 16. In addition to the trip to our nation’s capital, recipients are awarded a laptop computer and a $10,000 award. Learn more about our Military Child of the Year, visit www.militarychildoftheyear.org. Read about the 2015 recipientsSee pictures from the 2015 gala.

 

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As we wrap up the Month of the Military Child, we asked the past winners of our Military Child of the Year award what they want Americans to know about military kids. Nine out of 17 of our past recipients provided input for this blog. They brought us up to date on where they’ve been — and where they’re headed — and they STILL continue to inspire us!

Now, in their own words…

operation-homefront-blog-kids-1“Military kids are little warriors themselves. Many have to move multiple times and start over in new schools and towns, make new friends constantly (a scary thought for those in middle school), and send their fathers and mothers off to war. That being said, military kids are not to be underestimated. Military kids are outgoing, resilient, creative, and strong. The hardships and the sacrifices that comes with being part of a military family only makes us that much stronger and that much more motivated to change the world for the better.”

Nicole Goetz – 2011 Air Force Military Child of the Year(Nicole is working on her undergrad degree in Georgia and is partnering with fellow MCOY recipient Maggie Rochon to create a new military nonprofit that focuses on reintegration and bridging the military-civilian gap.)

 

operation-homefront-blog-kids-2“The children share their parents love for serving.”

Willie Banks, 2010 Military Child of the Year (Willie, a very active 8th grader, is working towards becoming a historian, a professional soccer player, and a saxophone player.)

 

 

 

 

operation-homefront-blog-kids-3“I truly don’t think anyone can understand the reality of what it’s like to be a military child unless you’ve been one yourself. Military families are unique in that they all have a common bond and that is knowing how to accept change. Whether it is moving every few months/years, or having a parent go away or get deployed for lengthy periods of time. It can be challenging. Not only are our active duty military parents making self-sacrifices for our country, but those families are making sacrifices too. It’s incredible to see the service our young military heroes make for both their families and our country. I think that’s the beauty of living the life as a military child. We are presented amazing opportunities to enrich and immerse ourselves in new cultures and ways of life. It is up to us to take advantage of those opportunities and cherish every moment of it.”

Alena Deveau, 2012 Coast Guard Military Child of the Year (Currently, Alena is double majoring in Meteorology and Geography and minoring in Communications. Right now, she is leaning toward working in the service sector.)

 

 

operation-homefront-blog-kids-4Being a Military child is the best way to grow up. Yes, it is hard at times but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. We learn the respect, values and morals from the military environment. I think most military children would agree that we have a bond that can’t be broken because of the military experience we share.”

Chelsea Rutherford, 2012 Air Force Military Child of the Year (Chelsea hopes to be an elementary teacher by this time next year. She is eager to start in her classroom and begin her journey.)

 

 

 

 

 

operation-homefront-blog-kids-5“I want America to know about all the sacrifices that military children make every day. (They) move countless times, have to step up and become the leaders of the house when their loved ones are deployed, or continually be the rock when times are tough.”

Mark Newberry, 2013 Air Force Military Child of the Year (Mark is a pre-med student, through the Air Force ROTC, in Michigan. He wants to become a surgeon, so he has joined a pre-med club on campus and is shadowing a thoracic surgeon).

 

 

 

 

 

operation-homefront-blog-kids-6.jpg“The saying, “kids serve too” is very true. We move every few years, have to make new connections and support systems, and many of us face the fact that our fathers and mothers might not come home. It is a fact of life for military children, and we continue to live our lives as normally as possible. Many of us do not have hometowns or childhood homes that we grew up in. I was born in Japan, and have lived in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Hawaii. These experiences are difficult to cope with, but form our personalities, and make us who we are. We adapt, and change is just part of our everyday lives. We devote our lives to the military lifestyle, and home is where the military sends us.”

Erika Booth, 2012 Marine Corps Military Child of the Year (Erika is currently an undergrad student in North Carolina. She is a biology major with a minor in chemistry, and hopes to get into medical school after getting her undergraduate degree.)

 

operation-homefront-blog-kids-7“I want America to know that military kids sacrifice just as much alongside their parents in order to protect this country. They move schools frequently, adapt to new environments, and travel the world representing our country. They are the strongest people I know. “

Nicole Daly, 2013 Army Military Child of the Year  (Nicole, a senior in high school, has started her own nonprofit with a mission to spread awareness about the problems of poverty and their connection to the lack of education throughout the world. She says that after college she has a passion to fight the global education crisis.)

 

operation-homefront-blog-kids-8“I want America to know that military kids should be honored because of what they go through.  Moving all of the time, parents being deployed, and not being treated the same, military children go through some daily struggles that other children do not. And they should be recognized for that.” 

Amanda Wimmersberg, 2013 Coast Guard Military Child of the Year (Amanda is an undergrad student in Florida. She has a dream of eventually becoming a nurse practitioner for either surgery or pediatric oncology.) 

 

 

 

 

 

operation-homefront-blog-kids-9.jpg“They are the best kids in the world! They live extremely tough lives, yet they continue to work hard and challenge themselves every day. They make sacrifices for our freedom, just like their parents. They are a very special breed- one that deserves recognition. Next time you meet a military kid, thank them!” 

Abigail Perdew, 2013 Marine Corps Military Child of the Year (Abigail is a “plebe” at the U.S. Naval Academy. She is working toward a political science and Arabic double major. She is hoping to earn a commission in the Marine Corps, where she would like to serve her country as either a Public Affairs Officer or a Foreign Area Officer.)

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by Jim Knotts
President and CEO of Operation Homefront.

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There are two million children under the age of 18 with an active-duty parent. 500,000 of those are children under the age of 6

With April as Month of the Military Child and our signature Military Child of the Year™ (MCOY) program just completed – there’s no better time to pause and reflect on the unique challenges of being a military kid today – and why our focus on them is so important to what we do here at Operation Homefront.

We see firsthand in our work that the strains of more than 13 years of war have exacted a toll on not just those who serve, but the family members who stand with them in service. We also know that a number of research efforts have been completed in the past several years trying to quantify the impact and catalog the challenges confronting military kids.

A Child Trends Research Brief, Homefront Alert: The Risks Facing Young Children in Military Families, published last year found that the composition of military families today is very different than thirty years ago. Today, about half of active-duty service members are parents, compared to just 15 percent in the Vietnam era – most of whom were officers. And significantly, the report noted that of two million children under the age of 18 with an active-duty parent, 500,000 of those are children under the age of 6. So at a time when our country has been fighting its longest sustained war, the stresses associated with military life are falling on an increasingly young military child population.

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The stresses associated with military life are falling on an increasingly young military child population

As children deal with life without their deployed parent and help the other parent along in the process, it creates family stress. A RAND Corporation study conducted throughout 2008 and 2009 found that 30 percent of the youth surveyed reported elevated anxiety levels, as compared with 15 percent of non-military youth. They face a burden that non-military children do not, and many of those non-military children cannot understand what it’s like for the military children, which creates additional stress in an already difficult situation.

I highlight this research because when you think of military kids, and the programs supporting them and military families, the importance of our work is all too abundantly clear. Whether it’s Back-to-School Brigade™, or Holiday Toy Drive, we seek to normalize where possible what we know are demands that military kids and families face that are often precipitated by service to country. And all kids, no matter their background or their parents’ occupation, deserve the chance to realize their full potential.

As we near the end of the Month of the Military Child, Operation Homefront will continue to deliver at the highest level with the programs and services we provide to this most deserving group of young patriots, and, continually look for ways we can help break down barriers that might impede their progress in realizing their dreams.

If you haven’t already, read the bios of this year’s MCOY award recipients. They truly are amazing and inspirational. If you’re like me, you can’t help but feel humbled by their tremendous achievements. Meeting this exemplary group of young people each year always inspires me to re-double my efforts and recommit to our mission, and I hope you too are spurred to action to do whatever you can in support of military kids and military families.

 

Jim (second from left) with MCOY 2014 for Coast Guard Juanita Collins and family, along with VADM Manson Brown, USCG, at the 2014 MCOY gala, April 10.

Jim (second from left) with MCOY 2014 for Coast Guard Juanita Collins and family, along with VADM Manson Brown, USCG, at the 2014 MCOY gala, April 10. Military children truly are amazing and inspirational. Our focus on them is an integral part of the mission of Operation Homefront.

Related:

Why Month of the Military Child? Because they deserve to take center stage.

We’re going to do a little bragging… (Military Child of the Year 2014)

Military Kids Take Center Stage

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“The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.” — Mulan

MCOY_blog_squareEdelweiss, Edelweiss…

Although this flower was made famous by the beloved musical, “The Sound of Music”, and admired for its beauty, this is no hothouse flower. Growing from a rock at high altitude in frigid air, resistant to radiation, needing little water, Edelweiss’s strength and resiliency is the stuff of legends. So much so that it has been honored on currency, coats of arms, and to this day is an insignia for the Alpine troops of several militaries.

When one takes a moment to marvel at the beauty of this world, you will find no shortage of examples of resiliency. We don’t have to look any further than the young patriots raised in our military families for examples of not only surviving but blossoming in the harshest conditions and under extreme adversity. For those young men and women daring enough to look the world in the eye and say “Show me what you got,” April is the Month of the Military Child.

Think about it. Many of our military children have never known a country not at war. Even those who are old enough to have been born before our current conflicts were probably too young to remember what it was like to serve in peace time (and make no mistake, families serve, too). On average, they move 6 to 9 times between kindergarten and 12th grade.[1] They go long periods of time not seeing Mom or Dad. They long for a hug but have to settle for Skype. They lose parents, or have friends that lose parents. Sometimes, their parent returns, but isn’t the same.

And yet still they maintain outstanding GPAs, volunteer in their communities, find others in need and help them. They are class presidents and varsity athletes. They find the silver lining and turn it into gold.

So why Month of the Military Child? Because, however we can make it happen, they deserve to take center stage. For their stories are our stories.

Over the next couple of weeks, it will be the honor of Operation Homefront to share more about these amazing young men and women as we celebrate this year’s recipients of our Military Child of the Year Award®. We’ll check in with our past recipients to see where the next chapter of their lives has taken them. We’ll also post information and stories about our military children on our Facebook page. Hopefully, you’ll be as inspired by them as much as we are. Every day.

The sixth annual Military Child of the Year Award® will be presented April 10, 2014 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, VA. In addition to the trip to our nation’s capital, recipients are awarded a $5,000 cash prize. General Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will speak, and legendary musician, entrepreneur, and philanthropist (and military child himself) Bret Michaels will give the keynote address. Mike Emanuel, chief congressional correspondent for Fox News Channel, will emcee the dinner and award portion of the evening event.

 

[1] http://www.dodlive.mil/index.php/2013/04/infographic-wrapping-up-month-of-the-military-child/

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marknewberry-airforceMark Newberry, Air Force

Mark moved for the 10th time, from Virginia to Washington state, the summer before his senior year.  He carries a 4.25 GPA with a course load of Advanced Placement statistics, anatomy, physiology, European history and literature.   Mark earned three varsity letters in cross-country and placed third with his team at the state championship.  He earned the prestigious rank of Eagle in Boy Scouts at just 13 years old.  Mark teaches Sunday school, visits shut-ins every other weekend and volunteers at the local VA thrift store and elderly village.  His school principal, John McSmith wrote, “Mark is a person of character who always does the right thing.  He is thoughtful and considerate to everyone, willing to help and work for the success of the team.”  He participated in the Duke University TIP Program for clinical psychology and shadowed a surgeon for 20 hours for his senior honors project, all in pursuit of a career in medicine.  Mark will study pre-med and has been accepted to the University of Texas-Austin, the University of Michigan and Baylor University and awaiting to hear back from Air Force ROTC and a few other universities.  He is the son of Jill and Brian Newberry.

nicolemariedaly-armyNicole Marie Daly, Army

Nicole, age 16, has moved 9 times and so far, attended 3 high schools.  Despite these constant changes, Nicole is ranked near the top of her class with a 4.7 GPA, a weighted score based on her coursework of Honors and Advanced Placement classes.  She has earned varsity letters in both cross-country and track, and runs half-marathons with her father.  Nicole served as the Military Child Education Representative for Fort Lee on a panel determining ways to help military children transition between schools.  Nicole also volunteers with a Family Readiness Group, the Fort Lee Spouse’s Club, and spends weekends visiting National Guard and Reserve units to teach soldiers and dependents about their education benefits.  Nicole was nominated by her school counselor, Tara Bauman-Seely, who wrote, “She is truly an example of a well-rounded student and immediately embraced her new environment and involved herself with extra-curricular activities.  She certainly stands out to me as a role model for military students!”  Nicole is the daughter of Cathy and Edward Daly.

amandawimmerberg-coastguardAmanda Wimmersberg, Coast Guard

Amanda is a gifted and talented senior with a 4.0 GPA and is captain of the varsity soccer team and track team.  She is a member of the Peer Leadership program which helps freshman acclimate to their new school by providing an older student to talk to about problems and make sure they aren’t getting bullied.  Amanda was the Teen Panel member of the Military Family Action Planning Committee and volunteers with her soccer team, student council and National Honor Society to organize beach cleanups and fundraisers.  She conducts senior citizen home visits with her church youth group.  Amanda is Red Cross CPR and First Aid certified and works as a lifeguard at the local community college.  Amanda was nominated by her school counselor, Kelly Reising, who wrote, “Frequent moves have always been a part of her life and so Amanda adapted quickly to her new environment. From the beginning, it was clear that Amanda was resilient, hard-working and intelligent.”  Amanda will begin college at the University of Central Florida where she will study to be a physical therapist.  Amanda is the daughter of Christina and Richard Schultz.

abigailmaryroseperdew-marinecorpsAbigail MaryRose Perdew, Marine Corps

Abigail is student council president and captain of the cross-country team and track and field team.  She carries a 4.1 GPA as a full International Baccalaureate (IB) senior with advanced placement courses in economics, calculus, European history and physics.  She has volunteered over 200 hours this year including math tutoring and as president of Student 2 Student, has grown the outreach of this group which helps new students acclimate to their new school and host country culture.  Linda Berger, the IB Coordinator for Bahrain School, wrote, “In my nearly thirty years as a secondary school educator, I regard Abigail as one of my top students.  She is intelligent, talented, highly motivated and positive.”    Abigail has earned an appointment to the United States Naval Academy and plans to study development economics and Arabic.  She would like to work as an attaché or Foreign Area Officer and in the long term, as a diplomat or run for public office.  Abigail is the daughter of Jessica and Jason Perdew.

alexanderrayburch-navyAlexander Ray Burch, Navy

Born at 25 weeks and 1.5lbs, Alexander Ray Burch was not expected to survive the night.  He pulled through but at age four, doctors discovered he was hearing impaired and would continue to lose his hearing with age.  Instead of limiting him, Alexander excels in doing for others.  While living in Guam, then nine-year old Alexander collected food and water and delivered supplies to villagers who lost their homes in a devastating typhoon.  Since then, he has grown into an honors student and chess enthusiast who immerses himself in volunteering, over 400 hours this past year including producing a video for an Anti-Bullying Campaign.  He is a member of the golf team and on homecoming court.  Dawn Thompson, Director of Youth Programs at Grand Forks Air Force Base wrote, “There is nothing he will not do and ‘no’ does not appear to be in his vocabulary.  He is an inspiration for all kids and many adults.”  While his hearing disability prevents Alexander from pursuing his dream of a Navy career, he plans to study at the University of North Dakota for a career in government supporting the military.  Alexander is the son of Joanne and David Burch.

United Technologies Corporation (UTC) is the presenting sponsor for the Military Child of the Year® Award. UTC, based in Hartford, Conn., is a diversified company that provides high technology products and services to the building and aerospace industries.

Additional event sponsors include: Wounded Warrior ProjectMilitary Times, Soldiers’ AngelsVeterans United FoundationBank of AmericaExpress ScriptsTeenCentralLaQuinta Inn & HotelsFlextronics, and Northrop Grumman.

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