It’s no secret that life as a military child is tough. With the constant moves, changes in schools and friendships and parents being deployed, military children deal with a lot. Whether one or both parents serve, the pressures of military service don’t stop with the person who serves. That’s why each April is designated as Month of the Military Child – to recognize the sacrifices each and every military child makes.
It’s also a time to recognize those children who contribute to their family’s well being.
Each year, Operation Homefront recognizes outstanding recipients of the Military Child of the Year award, honoring a child from each branch of the Armed Forces – U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, as well as the National Guard for the first time.
The recipients all have one thing in common – they demonstrate resiliency, leadership and achievement while supporting their parents’ service.
As the Coast Guard recipient, Caleb Parsons exemplified all those things and more.
Parsons, the son of U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Ward Parsons and his wife U.S. Air Force Reserve Staff Sgt. Story Parsons, is no stranger to dealing with all the challenges military children face. Currently, both his parents are deployed, and with the help of his grandparents, he has managed to balance caring for his three younger siblings with continued involvement in leadership roles, maintaining high academic standards, and even completing his application for admission to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.
“I’ve seen him incorporate the Air Force core values of integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do, into his daily routine as a student,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Alfred Harris (ret.).
Parsons has distinguished himself as a leader, reaching the highest rank authorized in the JROTC program, being named outstanding cadet three times and earning the Daedalian Award for patriotism. He also maintains a 4.21 GPA and is a leader on his high school cross-country running and swimming teams. What sets Parsons apart is his ability to not only achieve his own success, but to give back to others in need. He recently completed a one-week mission trip to Belize to provide needed aid to the local population.
Parsons himself shares that the best part of being a military child are the values taught to him by his parents.
“I am grateful for the instilment of a strong sense of discipline, most of all,” he said.
His future plans are to attend the U.S. Military Academy, where he has already received a Presidential Nomination, and serve the country as a special forces officer. Parsons was honored as the Coast Guard’s recipient of the 2015 Military Child of the Year award, where he was recognized by Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Paul Zukunft.
“Caleb has shined brightly in spite of the challenges of multiple deployments of both parents and represents the best of our military families,” said the Commandant at the ceremony. “Our families do not take an oath to support and defend the constitution, but they serve the nation every day by making tremendous sacrifices so that our military members can respond to crisis, go into harm’s way and achieve national objectives around the globe.”