WASHINGTON, D.C. –
Each April, the Department of Defense celebrates the Month of the Military Child to recognize the children of all service members and veterans. Along with that celebration, Operation Homefront hosts an annual awards gala recognizing eight outstanding young people ages 13 to 18 from each branch of the military based on their scholarship, volunteerism, leadership, extracurricular involvement, and resiliency.
At this year’s April 7 gala in Washington, D.C., Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. presented Anna Cummins, 16, with the Air Force Military Child of the Year award. Anna is the daughter of Amy and Lt. Col. Matthew Cummins, 70th Flying Training Squadron flight commander.
“We are extremely proud of everything Anna has done to help her family, classmates, and community,” Cummins said. “She started volunteering in the local community at age four when we were assigned to the 5th Flying Training Squadron at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma, which is under the 340th Flying Training Group at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph. Ever since then, Anna has found a calling in helping others.”
According to Anna’s parents, she spends a typical 12-hour day going to school and then volunteering or competing in after-school sports, five days every week. She also often spends her weekends and summers volunteering at hospitals, while taking breaks every now and then for her hobbies, reading and hiking.
When discussing the challenges of being a military child, she mentioned that her career goals of becoming a physician assistant and joining the Air Force to help military families stemmed from a lifetime of attending medical appointments with her older sister, Maddy, who is 18 and lives with Rett syndrome. With her sister requiring 24/7 care and being unable to walk or speak, Anna has observed how military families cope with numerous challenges while serving and sought ways to assist.
“A military child may have to be more responsible and dependable so that your parents can count on you, especially during a deployment. Military hours are not like regular work hours, I’ve learned to be flexible with my dad’s schedule due to his work demands. When the work day ends for most, military parents are still on duty, so I’ve learned I sometimes have to share his time and be patient,” Anna said. “Military dependents are especially good at living in the present and being resilient. We have no control over what comes down the chain of command, one day we might be going to lunch with our service member, and the next day they might get a phone call they have to go. We know the risks and hazards of their jobs, even if they’re stateside. We appreciate the time we spend with our loved ones and are grateful for the time we have together.”
In addition to this, Anna holds aspirations of becoming a pilot, which is why she’s attained a leadership role in the Civil Air Patrol and founded the Aviation and Aerospace Club at her school.
“My favorite part of being a military child is all the amazing people that I get to meet and learn from. I’ve had the opportunity to talk to groundbreakers such as Maj. Christy Wise, who the first female amputee to return to flying duty. I’ve also spoken with the Thunderbirds and their flight doctor,” added Anna. “In 2019, I attended a Yellow Ribbon Conference for post-deployment families, there I connected with other military children and learned new tactics to deal with stress and anxiety in the day to day life of a military child.”
During the gala, Anna also received $10,000, a laptop computer, and other donated gifts.