When we view a photo of a military family, we tend to focus on the service member. That intense gaze. The confident stance. We wonder what obstacles they faced as they guarded our country’s freedom. We want to know their story.
The photo here isn’t the classic image of the warrior. This photo is about family. It is the family that stands beside that service member. Their story is love and laughter, joy and fear and, yes, occasional tears.
They serve, too.
April is Month of the Military Child. In honor of them, we present 5 reasons why military kids totally deserve to be recognized for the whole month of April…and really for the whole year!
1. They are patriotic. These kids know what the flag, the anthem and the pledge represent. As they grow, they understand that while they may not have their parent around, it’s for a very important reason that impacts the lives of all of America’s kids. As a result, they learn and live a love for their country. And it extends to their community service. Cavan McIntyre-Brewer, our 2015 Army Military Child of the Year, tirelessly finds ways to bring some comfort to our nation’s veterans.
2. They are strong and resilient. How many sleepless nights have they endured, wondering if daddy is okay or just missing him? How many times have they had to take that scary walk into yet another new classroom? How many birthdays (or school events, or holidays) has their mom or dad missed? And how many military kids have had to grow up very quickly and fill the gap a parent may have left, whether they are wounded or gone from the home because they are deployed? They face extraordinary circumstances with quiet resolve. Caleb Parsons, our 2015 Coast Guard Military Child of the Year, stepped in to help when his parents, both service members, were deployed at the same time.
3. They are citizens of the world. Talk to any typical military kid. They have likely seen and lived in multiple states. They may have lived in one or more countries in Europe, or Asia, or both. As a result, their knowledge of other cultures, languages and empathy for those who may look or act differently is highly developed. A fine example is our 2015 Air Force Military Child of the Year, Sarah Hesterman, who seeks to empower girls on a global scale through her work with the United Nations.
4. They support each other. The best person that can understand the life of a military child is someone who has lived it. Military kids stand together…connected by similar struggles, mixed with amazing experiences and overwhelming pride. Our 2012 Navy Military Child of the Year, Nate Richards, even started his own blog to encourage other military kids.
5. They don’t ask for recognition. People often forget that military kids serve our country too. They didn’t choose a life that offers moments that are exciting and gut-wrenching, sometimes within the same week or month. They humbly serve behind the scenes. And we’re happy to point the spotlight squarely in their direction. By honoring a few, we recognize them all.
As we honor our youngest patriots this month, we invite you to learn more about, and be impressed by, our 2016 Military Child of the Year recipients. Check back here as we share more stories and articles about them. And mark your calendars to follow us on social media on April 14 as we celebrate them with a special gala in Washington D.C. We’re also excited to announce our Mission2Honor initiative to recognize military kids and families during April and May. We hope you’ll join us and a part of this effort!
Together, we will continue our mission to build strong, stable, and secure military families so they can thrive – not simply get by – in the communities they have worked so hard to protect.
* We dedicate this blog in memory of 2015 National Guard Military Child of the Year Recipient Zachary Parsons who tragically lost his life in February 2016 in a car accident. Zachary strived every day to live a life of integrity and serves as the finest example by which all military kids can be inspired.