April is the official month of the military child. Operation Homefront has a huge Gala to celebrate and honor one child from each branch of service. The winner of each group represents all the kids in that branch. I was the 2012 Military Child of the year for the Navy last year. It was humbling and a tremendous honor. It gave me a huge platform to stand on and let the world know what it is like to be a young military child during wartime. Actually my whole life has been during a war. I was able to represent not only Navy children , but the awesometacullar organization OPERATION HOMEFRONT. I spent my year , speaking to groups, on what life as a military child is like . what kind of support we need and how they can help us. I went to a board meeting for USO San Diego and read excerpts from my blog. My family and a I went to a best of celebration and represented military families in Southern California to accept a check for Operation Homefront. I was incredibly lucky enough to throw out the first pitch at the padres game , and talked with the military liason Mike , on other ways they could help support military kids. I expanded my volunteering to collecting school supplies for Backpack brigade, and had a car dealer do a backpack drive.
This year’s Military Child of the Year is Alexander Burch. He is an unique kid who I would like to grow up like. We have a lot of the same interests and share a bond as military kids.
This is his story :
Alexander Ray Burch, Navy
Born at 25 weeks and 1.5 pounds, Alexander Ray Burch was not expected to survive the night. He pulled through but at age four, doctors discovered he was hearing impaired and would continue to lose his hearing with age. Instead of limiting him, Alexander excels in doing for others. He said, “I really enjoy volunteering a lot because at the end of the day I know I have made a difference, I made today count.”
While living in Guam, then nine-year old Alexander collected food and water and delivered supplies to villagers who lost their homes in a devastating typhoon. Since then, he has grown into an honors student and chess enthusiast who immerses himself in volunteering. This year, he volunteered over 400 hours which included producing a video for an Anti-Bullying Campaign. He is a member of the golf team and on the homecoming court. Dawn Thompson, Director of Youth Programs at Grand Forks Air Force Base, wrote, “There is nothing he will not do and ‘no’ does not appear to be in his vocabulary. He is an inspiration for all kids and many adults.”
Alexander’s father, David, is a retired Navy Chief who served 24 years including assignments in Naples, Iceland and Guam. He currently works with the FAA. His mother, Joanne, is a Training & Curriculum Specialist for Child and Youth Programs at Grand Forks Air Force Base. Navy service is a family tradition. Alexander’s great grandfather was a retired Commander, earning a bronze star for service in WWII and Korea. His great uncle was a retired Chief Warrant Officer.
Alexander says the best part of being a part of a military family is the privilege to have lived around the world. “I have experienced white outs in Iceland, earthquakes, typhoons and super typhoons. . .I have met some amazing people of all different cultures and religions, tasted different foods and visited palaces and castles. I am so proud of my dad and so thankful to the US Navy for all the opportunities given to us.”
While his hearing disability prevents Alexander from pursuing his dream of a Navy career, he plans to work toward a career in government supporting the military. He is especially interested in a career in business, accounting or entrepreneurship and has been accepted to the University of North Dakota.
Alexander is a voracious reader, loves watching scary movies and his favorite food is sushi. He enjoys playing on the computer and spending time with his new puppy, Finley, and three cats. Alexander is the eldest child of Joanne and David Burch. Alexander has a younger sister, Olivia.
It is really important to celebrate how great our lives as military kids are . I read a poem on what it is like to be a military kid and it really says it all.
The Military child.
The official flower of the military child is the dandelion. Why? The plant puts down roots almost anywhere, and it’s almost impossible to destroy. It’s an unpretentious plant, yet good looking. It’s a survivor in a broad range of climates. Military children bloom everywhere the winds carry them. They are hardy and upright. Their roots are strong, cultivated deeply in the culture of the military, planted swiftly and surely. They’re ready to fly in the breezes that take them to new adventures, new lands, and new friends.
Experts say that military children are well-rounded, culturally aware, tolerant, and extremely resilient. Military children have learned from an early age that home is where their hearts are, that a good friend can be found in every corner of the world and in every color, and that education doesn’t only come from school. They live history. They learn that to survive means to adapt, that the door that closes one chapter of their life opens up to a new and exciting adventure full of new friends and new experiences