Challenges far beyond even the normal rigors of military life haven't stopped this year's recipients of Operation Homefront's Military Child of the Year Award from giving to their families and their communities. A sampling of the 2012 winners shows just how special military children truly are.
Before they were famous, many truly influential men and women started by serving their country in the US military or grew up in military families.

2012 Military Child of the Year

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Military children grow up fast. That's what happens to kids who routinely face constant moves, change of schools, loss of friends, deployments of parents, illnesses and injuries in the family, and responsibilities far beyond their years.

Military children become masters at adjusting to life changes.

Challenges far beyond even the normal rigors of military life haven't stopped this year's recipients of Operation Homefront's Military Child of the Year Award from giving to their families and their communities.

Chosen by a committee of active-duty personnel, family readiness personnel, teachers, military mothers, and community members each year, Military Child Of The Year winners represent each branch of service, chosen from a pool of more than 1,000 nominees. Each winner receives $5,000, and is flown with a parent or guardian to a special gala event in Washington, D.C., to receive their award in person.

A sampling of the 2012 winners shows just how special military children truly are.

Army: Amelia McConnell, 17 earned her way into several national honor societies in her school, despite dealing with her father's deployments to war zones three times, nine different moves, the loss of her brother in combat, and her father's illness.

Navy: James Nathaniel Richards, 9, dealt with the challenges of having his father and three brothers deployed at the same time by supporting others: he started a blog that gave support to the eighty-seven military kids who follow it He also leads the anti-bullying committee at his school and volunteers at the USO wrapping gifts and stockings for troops in Afghanistan

Marine Corps: Erika Booth, 16, suffers from lupus but remains the primary caregiver for her 13-year-old autistic brother. She's ranked first in her class at school, is junior class president, and vice president of her local chapter of the Health Occupations Students of America. She also volunteers for the Drug Education for Youth program, and the Marine Corps LINKS program, helping others cope with the challenges of military life.

Air Force: Chelsea Rutherford, 17, with both her mother and father on active duty, still makes it a priority to help other military children. She's vice president of the Student to Student Club, introducing military children to the campus and easing their transition. She's an honor roll student who volunteers more than 179 hours for nonprofit organizations.

Coast Guard: Alena Deveau, 17, stepped right up to help her family when her father, Capt. Paul Deveau, came home and was diagnosed with cancer when Alena was in the seventh grade. Alena ran the household, caring for her younger sister while her mother cared for her father. Still, she volunteers as an organizer of a local Veterans' Day dinner.

"The sons and daughters of America's service members learn what patriotism is at a very young age," Jim Knotts, president and chief executive officer of Operation Homefront, said. "Children in military families demonstrate leadership within their families and within their communities. This is what the Military Child of the Year Award honors."



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