CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- April is Month of the Military Child, and U.S. Army Installation Management Command's G9 Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation is recognizing the brave hearts and resilient souls of Army youth by conducting its annual Young Lives, BIG Stories Contest from April 1 to 30. The contest gives U.S. Army children an opportunity to tell their stories for a chance to win prizes.

The contest is open to children of U.S. active-duty Soldiers, Army National Guardsmen, Army reservists, military spouses or Army retirees. Children are asked to submit entries which answer the question: What does it mean to be a military child?

Children age 3 to third grade can submit drawings, and children in fourth to twelfth grade can submit written entries.

Entries must be submitted online or by mail by 11:59 p.m. U.S. Central Standard Time on April 30. More information, such as rules and entry submission, is on the official contest website at

In 2017, Amanda Macauley, daughter of Ronald Macauley, Central Processing Facility coordinator and retirement services officer at U.S. Army Garrison Benelux in Schinnen, was the overall contest winner. Her essay about how growing up in a military environment captured the remarkable impression it has on her life.

Ronald served in the U.S. Army for 34 years and retired as a sergeant major. During his military career, his family experienced a global adventure as they lived overseas.

"In short, life as a 'military brat' has proved a truly worldly experience," she wrote in her essay. "As such, the hardest question a military child has to answer is 'where are you from?'; I've made home wherever the Army sends us. Where am I not from?"

Amanda graduated from the AFNORTH International School on Joint Force Command Brunssum, The Netherlands, last year, where she participated in the Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps program and camps. She is currently attending the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, and is studying environmental engineering.

"As a military child, I feel my upbringing has prepared me for anything and everything. Leaving high school and my home overseas, I'm ready to take on the world," she wrote in her essay.

Amanda's essay, along with the other winning entries in the 2017 Young Lives, BIG Stories Contest, are on the official contest website.

Family and MWR will host special events in observance of Month of the Military Child. For more information, go to