Organization honors service members' children

  • Published
  • By Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Gordon
  • Defense Media Activity
Officials with Our Military Kids honored four children and a military family here yesterday in an award ceremony at the Navy Memorial here.

During the organization's "Our Military Kids of the Year" event, retired Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, the 16th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and an Our Military Kids advisory board member, spoke on the importance of the families that service members leave behind when they deploy, especially the children of those families.

"Our military families serve as well as anyone who has ever worn a uniform," General Pace said. "And these military children have demonstrated amazing talent, resilience and strength."

Our Military Kids provides artistic, athletic and educational grants to children of deployed National Guardsmen and military reservists who are deployed overseas, said Greg O'Brien, a public relations associate for the group.

"These grants pay for participation in activities such as sports, fine arts, camps and tutoring programs," he said. "Our surveys and third-party studies have found how important it is for children to stay active during a family member's deployment and have something positive on which they can focus their energy."

This year's Our Military Kids of the Year honorees are Keegan Neverett, 16, of Leesburg, Fla.; Chris-Shanti Jackson, 15, of Jackson, Miss.; Katherine Bensburg, 14, of Mahopac, N.Y.; and Tristan Fissette, 10, of Elk Grove Village, Ill.

Our Military Kids also honored the family of Air Force Senior Master Sgt. William Liston, an Air National Guardsman from West River, Md., as the Our Military Kids Family of the Year.

The children represent parents who serve in the Army Reserve and National Guard, the Navy Reserve and the Air National Guard. They were selected through a contest among Our Military Kids grant recipients. The children were asked to submit essays and videos emphasizing their commitment to community service and their participation in the grant's activity.

"I could hardly believe that I was selected as an Our Military Kids Kid of the Year," Keegan said, who used his grant for guitar and voice lessons. "It's a great honor. Just being here is pretty amazing."

Many of the children said they wouldn't have been able to participate in the activities they pursued without the grants provided by Our Military Kids.

"I used my grant from Our Military Kids for cheerleading, cheer lessons and fees," Chris-Shanti said, whose father is in the Army National Guard. "With my father being deployed overseas so many times, we certainly wouldn't have been able to cover the costs of cheerleading without the grant, and I'm just so thankful for the opportunity to do what I love."