First Lady Michelle Obama gave the welcoming remarks at an awards ceremony in Pentagon City last night.
The Military Child of the Year Awards recognize the “strength, resilience and leadership” of military kids from each of branch of the armed services. The event, held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel, was organized by the group Operation Homefront.
Support of military families is one of Mrs. Obama’s signature issues. She spoke glowingly of the honorees’ maturity, wisdom and bravery.
“When our troops are called to serve, their families serve too,” Mrs. Obama said to an audience chock full of military officers, spouses and media personnel. “[Military children] play their own very unique role in keeping our country safe… their strength and support helps our troops serve.”
The five recipients of this year’s awards were:
- Taylor Dahl-Sims, 17, of Oceanside, Ca. Dahl-Sims helped to care for her baby brother — who was suffering medical problems — while dad was away at war. When her father, a Marine, returned with a traumatic brain injury and facial injuries from multiple IED blasts, she also helped to take care of him. All the while, she has been doing volunteer work, taking college classes and commanding her school’s Air Force Junior ROTC.
- Kyle Hoeye of Tucson, Ariz., whose Army father has been deployed three times. At 16, Hoeye “has made helping military families his life’s work.”
- Melissa Howland, 17, of Millis, Mass. Howland nearly died from a blood disorder, the symptoms of which are now keeping her from playing her favorite sports. Nonetheless, Howland has managed to rack up nearly 500 volunteer hours while her Navy father was deployed in Iraq.
- Nicole Goetz, 17, of Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. Nicole’s father has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. With dad gone for months at a time, Nicole has stepped up to help raise her 10-year-old brother, all while donating hundreds of hours of her time to community service, earning a 4.0 GPA and serving as president of her school’s Key Club.
- Margaret Rochon, a 17-year-old Coast Guard kid from Jacksonville, N.C. In addition to numerous extracurricular activities at school, Margaret helped to organize a seminar about the “stresses of wartime deployment on students and the effects of PTSD on families.” The seminar became mandatory training for teachers in her county.
More photos, after the jump.
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