Profiles in courage from the youngest members of America’s military family.
When military mothers and fathers are deployed overseas, they’re not the only ones called to make sacrifices for their country. There are nearly 2 million American children in military families, and their lives are marked with frequent moves, fleeting friendships and extra household duties to make up for an absent adult. Often they wrestle with the fear—and sometimes the reality—of having a parent wounded or killed in combat. Operation Homefront’s Military Child of the Year Award recognizes youths who display leadership and resilience despite the hardships. This small but heart-tugging book tells the stories of the 2011 winners and finalists from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard. These remarkable kids faced estrangement, disease and parents injured in battle yet still volunteered countless hours to charities and excelled in the classroom. There is the story of 17-year-old Taylor Dahl-Sims, whose stepfather was injured by multiple IED blasts while in Iraq. With shrapnel still embedded in his face and suffering from a traumatic brain injury, her stepfather faced a long road to recovery when he returned home. Taylor not only helped her mother care for her two siblings, she went on to become the backbone of her family’s nonprofit North Star Group, serve as commander of her Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps unit and make the honor roll. Other children featured in the book overcome physical challenges: 9-year-old Lily Moser suffers from a neurological disease that causes her to have seizures several times a day, yet at age 6 she completed nearly 400 hours of community service and continues to participate in several charity endeavors. Inspiring is an inadequate word to describe the 25 vignettes about ordinary kids fighting through loneliness and self-pity with a positive attitude and willingness to serve. Told in concise, unadorned but engaging prose, these profiles offer proof that age and circumstance are not barriers to accomplishing great things.
A window into the difficult lives of military children and a testament to those who persevere in spite of it.