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Lindsay Carstairs Believes in Advocacy and Service

By Operation Homefront

April 1, 2024

Lindsay Carstairs Named 2024 Navy Military Child of the Year®

Lindsay Carstairs, Operation Homefront’s 2024 Military Child of the Year® for the Navy, turned a devastating diagnosis of a rare form of epilepsy into a passion for advocacy and community service. 

She found out about the honor when her parents surprised her with flowers and balloons when making the announcement. 

Lindsay, 18, is the daughter of Navy veterans Shaun and Keri Carstairs. Shaun retired as a captain after a distinguished career of 25 years, and Keri served for 13 years, achieving the rank of commander before her honorable discharge in 2011. Both parents have medical backgrounds, with Shaun working as an emergency physician, and Keri as a pediatric emergency physician and healthcare executive. Lindsay has an older brother, Ian. 

Despite her parents’ medical expertise, the diagnosis of Jeavons Syndrome when Lindsay was 8 years old presented significant challenges. The disease was difficult to control. Epilepsy was not just a physical hardship for Lindsay but also a mental and emotional challenge. She worried about what her classmates would think of her each time an ambulance came to the school because of her seizures. 

“It took my neurologists over two years to find a medication that worked for me, so that time wasn’t easy in my life because there were a lot of tests and stays in the hospital, but I now know epilepsy is just part of who I am,” she said. 

To help manage her healthcare, the Carstairs family was fortunate to utilize the Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP), which assists military dependents with special healthcare needs. EFMP allowed them to maintain stability while living in San Diego, California, for Lindsay’s consistent medical care. 

“I’m so grateful that the EFMP was available to help coordinate my care and to allow my parents to be stationed close to the hospital where I was receiving my care,” she said. “I know that this would not have been possible if my parents hadn’t been in the military and the EFMP program didn’t exist.” 

Lindsay’s early adversities inspired her to co-found a local International Children’s Advisory Network (iCAN) chapter at Rady Children’s Hospital, where she was a patient.  

“I am proud to have started (a chapter) for my community,” Lindsay said. “I dedicated many hours to establishing our chapter. I learned to stay organized and improved my public speaking skills while talking to peers about iCAN and at advocacy events.” 

Throughout high school, Lindsay has led multiple advocacy discussions, raised thousands of dollars for local charities, provided community service for children with complex conditions like her own, and earned the President’s Gold Volunteer Service Award after achieving over 300 hours.  

After graduating from Canyon Crest Academy in San Diego, where she attends high school, Lindsay will attend her “dream” school, Tulane University, as an Honors Scholar in August. She plans to major in political science/international relations and marketing with a minor in Italian. She also wants to be involved in the Center for Public Service at Tulane, continuing her commitment to making a difference. 

Once she finishes college, Lindsay hopes to attend law school to pursue a career in international advocacy and law. She wants to make a difference through global policy change, such as equitable healthcare and fair-trade agreements.  

“I know my epilepsy will prevent me from being in the military like my parents, but I still want to serve my country, and I have a goal to work in the State Department as a diplomat to help build bridges and relationships with other countries,” Lindsay said. “That’s why I am studying international relations and constantly trying to learn new languages. Maybe I can even be an Ambassador one day.” 

Operation Homefront’s Military Child of the Year program, now in its 16th year, recognizes outstanding teens in each branch of the armed forces for criteria that include their scholarship, volunteerism, leadership and extracurricular involvement while facing the challenges of military family life.  

Collectively, the seven 2024 recipients logged 3,667 volunteer hours in the 12 months before nominations. Altogether, they have experienced 37 permanent changes of station and lived through 247 months of deployments.   

The Military Child of the Year Award recipients will be recognized at a gala in Washington, D.C., in April, during which senior leaders of each branch of service will present the awards. Award recipients also will receive $10,000 each, a laptop computer, and other donated gifts. 

Service/Leadership Highlights 

  • President and founding member, Kids-Rady San Diego chapter of the International Children’s Advisory Network (iCAN) 
  • President’s Gold Volunteer Service Award 2023 
  • Team member/concessions manager, Canyon Crest Academy Comedy Sportz Competitive Improv Team 
  • Co-host, Canyon Crest Academy-TV (CCA-TV) weekly school news broadcast 
  • Sports editor and staff writer, Raven Review (Canyon Crest Academy school newspaper) 
  • Volunteer Summer Intern/Production Director/Camp Counselor, Solana Beach Community Theater/HeyJoJo Productions 
  • Co-captain, Canyon Crest Academy varsity girls’ flag football team 
  • Volunteer online SAT tutor, College Board/Schoolhouse World (Khan Academy) 

Favorite Quote

“Love the life you live. Live the life you love” – Bob Marley 

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