By Lisa Ferdinando, ARNEWSApril 12, 2013
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 12, 2013) -- An active volunteer, honor student and varsity athlete from Fort Lee, Va., 17-year-old Nicole Daly, is the Army's 2013 Military Child of the Year.
Growing up in a military family, Daly has moved nine times and attended three high schools. Despite her busy life, she still finds time to volunteer for military-related activities and maintains a 4.7 grade point average.
Daly received the award Thursday from Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno.
"The thing that impresses me the most about Nicole is she's taken a difficult situation -- many deployments by her dad -- to use that as an inspiration for her to help others," said Odierno at Operation Homefront's Military Child of the Year award ceremony.
"By doing that, she's become an inspiration to me," he said.
Daly has earned varsity letters in cross country and track and runs half-marathons with her father, the Chief of Ordnance and Commandant of the Ordnance Center and School at Fort Lee, Va. Her mother is a former Quartermaster Officer.
Daly has used her time on weekends to visit National Guard and Reserve units to discuss education benefits, and served on a panel to address ways to help military children transition between schools.
Daly, who lived overseas for about four years, said the military life has made her stronger, and more adaptable and accepting of different people and cultures.
"I think all military children go through this too. Every time you move, you have to adapt so quickly and meet new friends, [and] get involved in new classes. It really creates resilient individuals at such young ages," she said.
"I really think it is such a great asset later in life because that is really how the real world is," said Daly, who wants to pursue a career in medicine or law as a way to help others.
Daly said the military becomes family for members since those in the service share a special bond, moving frequently and living far from other relatives.
"It's definitely hard, but I think it's definitely an exciting lifestyle to be moving around a lot. I wouldn't trade it for anything and I'm sure most people would say they wouldn't either," she said.
The non-profit Operation Homefront provides emergency financial and other assistance to military families and wounded service members. The group honored a child from each of the five military branches for its 2013 Military Child of the Year.
More than 1,000 children among the five branches were nominated this year.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said the life of a military child is not easy. Military children face many difficulties, he said, including deployment of their parents, frequent moves, and the need to keep reestablishing roots. But, he said, it makes the children stronger, more adaptable and more resilient.
He praised the recipients for their selection and achievements in their schools and communities.
"I'm glad that I didn't have to compete with them to be the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," Dempsey joked. "[They are] just incredible young men and women who not only do their parents proud, but who do their schools proud, their friends proud, their communities proud and ultimately the nation proud."
Daly, who celebrated her 17th birthday on Thursday, said she was honored to be selected.
"It's been just a great experience with all the support I've received and the whole military community," she said. "I'm just so happy I had this opportunity."
Daly said the awards ceremony, her visit into Washington, D.C., and a chance meeting with Sen. John McCain during a visit to Capitol Hill, were "probably the best way to spend my birthday."