Announcing: The 2016 Month of the Military Child Art and Essay Contest Winners

Written by Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Steven Cantrell

Back in April, we announced the 2016 Month of the Military Child Art and Essay Contest, and we’re very excited to share the winning entries with you!

First, I’d like to recognize the Coast Guard Foundation for its support and sponsorship of the awards.

Second, I’d like to thank everyone who participated in this contest. My team and I really enjoyed all the submissions, which were all so great it was challenging to narrow it down to these winners.

Janet and I had the privilege to visit the Top Overall Winner, five-year old Chloe Smith, aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Diligence where her father is assigned. 

You can find each category and its respective winner’s artwork or essay showcased below.

Thank you all for being such an important part of our Coast Guard family.

From left to right: MCPOCG Steven Cantrell and Ombudsman at Large Janet Cantrell with the Smith family - Chloe, 5, Top Overall Winner of the Art Contest, her brothers and her parents. Photo courtesy of the Cantrells.

From left to right: MCPOCG Steven Cantrell and Ombudsman at Large Janet Cantrell with the Smith family – Chloe, 5, Top Overall Winner of the Art Contest, her brothers and her parents. Photo courtesy of the Cantrells.

Top Overall Winner

Top Overall Art Winner, Chloe Mae Smith

Top Art Winner (3-5)

Top Art (3-5), Holly Gale Null

Top Art Winner (6-9)

Top Art (6-9), Nya Jones

 Top Art Winner (10-13)

Top Art (10-13), Niah Kuemmerle

Top Art Winner (14-17)

Top Art (14-17), Sarabelle Slicer

 Top Essay Winner (10-13)

Top Essay (10-13), Lindsay Noelani Wong

Being a Military Child is … “Challenging and Rewarding at the Same Time.”

To be successful in life, there always comes hard work, being devoted to your goals, and sometimes there may even be challenges, but with the hard work and challenges the benefits are a great result! I’ve been a military child since birth. I am 12-1/2 years old. I’m only in the 6th grade and have been in 4 schools already because of military transfers. I think that makes me a pretty experienced Coast Guard child.

Some of the challenges and hard work of being a military child is because we move frequently. You have to switch schools, leave friends and an area that you have grown to like, then make new friends at the new place, catch up with the school work, and of course help Mom and Dad with the move. But the hardest challenge of all is having your Mom/Dad being away.

Sometimes with deployments, or like us right now, Dad is away from us as a geographical bachelor. He did this because he cares about our family and wants to keep us in good schools, and let Mom stay at her good job. Living with just one parent is pretty tricky. I have to balance school, sports, and extra home chores with my Dad being away. But I have to do the best I can to help my Mom.

There are many great things about being a military child though! You just have to put things in a sort of happy and positive perspective. Like what I said in the last paragraph, moving around to different places may be a challenge. Some kids may see moving around as annoying and depressing. I choose to see it as being happy and blessed to have the joy of experiencing new places and making new friends, because remember, not everyone can experience the things military children experience. Missing our Mom/Dad is normal, but once they get home, you’ll cherish more time with them and become a stronger family!

All of my life I’ve been a military child, and I’ve collected some pretty good advice I could/would give another military child if they asked for it. In my opinion, the best advice I would give to another military child is to stay strong. I know, that’s what everyone says, but it’s true. You just have to keep yourself busy and take good care of yourself. You also have to stay social, because sometimes you just want to isolate yourself if you are sad and missing loved ones or friends, but that’s why you need to distract yourself and get out there and keep yourself busy and social, build relationships with other military children who are experiencing the same thing that you are. You can share and help each other by giving coping tips and most of all being there for each other.

I’ve personally joined a rowing team and I row 3 times a week for 2 hours. Rowing helps me stay fit, and stay away from all of the negative feelings of missing my Dad. I also keep busy by reading books, and especially studying to keep my grades up. Also, it’s important to help my Mom with whatever she needs. This all makes my Dad proud to know that we are doing fine, so he can concentrate on his job, the Coast Guard mission.

Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty are the Coast Guard core values. What honor means to me is having integrity and choosing to do the right thing. Honoring my parents by doing what they ask and always displaying good behavior at home, school, and on my sports team. Respect all people, regardless of what their age is or their race. Everyone has their own story and it’s important to never judge anyone. Nobody is perfect. Devotion to Duty means working very hard to achieve my goals, always trying my personal best in everything that I do, in school, sports, and at home. Staying on task and devoted to what I set my mind to do. My Mom and Dad always set a good example for me and I know how hard they both work to give me a nice home, clothes, good healthy things to eat. They go to work every day and always devote all they have to me and my brother and sister.

To wrap this up, being a military child isn’t that bad when you think of it. Sure, there are some challenges here and there, but the benefits support them. From being a military child, you get to go to new places and cherish time with family. All you have to do is stay strong, stay busy, be healthy, and you’ll get through it. Hopefully all this will help me become a responsible adult, but then again, I still have a few years before that happens!

Top Essay Winner (14-17)

Top Essay (14-17), Amelia Butala

“What are the benefits to being a military child?” You ask, your blank face staring back, expecting something new, some kind of groundbreaking answer to relieve yourself from the pity you have for me, my family, and the millions of others faced with this “burden.” “The Commissary,” some may quickly answer. “The discounts,” others mutter. Sure, some of us may continuously be moving from city to city with no physical place to call home, others fear for the safety of their parent’s lives, wondering if the last time they saw them will eternally be the last. But these “drawbacks” to a military child’s life are inconceivably small compared to the happenings we experience that would leave any other person standing in awe.

Truly, nothing can compare to the look of amazement from your civilian friends as your mother is saluted, or standing up for the pledge of allegiance before class and knowing that your parent is out there serving and protecting this country. Even when our heartstrings seem to reach out of our chests, tugging toward the land our family member has been deployed at for months we stay strong and believe that what our parents are doing is the right choice.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the real question in this situation isn’t about the material benefits military children receive that everyone solely seems to associate anything worthwhile with these days. It’s why your face of pity even exists. Because although you can see your parent every weekend or catch a glimpse of them after dinner and not see them exhausted, I’m able to watch my mom, decked out in her uniform with a warm smile and the sun shining off of her newly pinned ribbons making her way towards me in open arms. That sense of joy, pride and honor… That’s all mine.

Look for the 2017 Month of the Military Child Art and Essay Contest announcement right here on All Hands next spring!  

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