Ahsha B., center, receives the National Military Youth of the Year award in Washington, D.C., Aug. 4, 2022. The award recognizes military-connected youth, ages 14 to 18, for their commitment to community service, academic success, good character and citizenship, and establishing long-term goals.
National Military Youth of the Year awarded in DOD-supported program
by David Vergun
As part of its commitment to military family readiness, the Defense Department has collaborated with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America both on- and off-installation in the United States and overseas since 1991. This year the Annual Military Youth of the Year celebration was held August 4 in Washington, D.C.
The event honors exemplary teens who have overcome setbacks, demonstrated exceptional character and accomplishments, and are prepared to meet the challenges of adolescence and adulthood, said Dianna Ganote, program analyst in the Office of Military Family Readiness Policy.
I believe that my generation has the ability to create a positive change in this country by unifying diverse groups of teens who may believe they have more differences than similarities."
Ahsha B., 2022-23 National Military Youth of the Year
This year's winner, announced at the ceremony, is Ahsha B., 18, who attended the youth center at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia.
"I believe that my generation has the ability to create a positive change in this country by unifying diverse groups of teens who may believe they have more differences than similarities," Ahsha said.
"Although we have seen and encountered the pain of prejudice and exclusion, we have also experienced the renewed power and results of unifying to fight for social justice and change," she said.
"It is my belief that having strong, vocal leaders is important," she added, mentioning that she aspires to be that leader who uplifts other youth, helping them to feel valued and wanted.
Ganote, one of this year's judges, said Ahsha is an incredible young woman who will proudly represent all military youth by speaking to their challenges and their amazing resilience.
"She has accomplished so much in such a short period of time," Ganote said. "It will be amazing to see where this journey takes her."
Patricia Montes Barron, who serves as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Military Community and Family Policy – the department's office that establishes quality-of-life policies and programs – also attended the ceremony.
"I am grateful for this partnership and for the sacrifices of military-connected youth, who give so much of their lives to improving their communities and bettering themselves," Barron said. "I am also grateful for the youth program personnel who set them up for success and instill important values, such as community service, volunteerism, resiliency, and positive mental health and well-being."
Youth of active duty, guard and reserve service members who are not located near an installation youth center are eligible for a free membership to their local Boys and Girls Club.
Boys and Girls Club Programs Include:
Education and workforce readiness
Character and leadership
Health and wellness
Music, drama and fine arts
Sports and recreation
The department also partners with other youth-serving organizations that benefit military children, including the 4-H youth development programs.
Ganote said that 4-H offers a wealth of resources in science, technology, engineering, math, healthy living, citizenship, public speaking and other programs.
More information on DOD youth programs can be found on the Military OneSource website.
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