OCEANSIDE — The Marine Corps recipient of this year’s Operation Homefront 2011 Military Child of the Year award is Taylor Dahl-Sims, a 17-year-old from Oceanside.
The winners were chosen by a committee including active duty military personnel, Family Readiness Support assistants, teachers, military mothers and community members. Dahl-Sims will receive $5,000 and will be flown with a parent or guardian to Washington, D.C., for a special recognition ceremony April 7.
“The sons and daughters of America’s service members learn what patriotism is at a very young age,” said Jay Anderson, Southern California Chapter President of Operation Homefront. “Children in military families demonstrate leadership within their families and within their communities. This is what the Military Child of the Year Award honors.”
In 2010, Dahl-Sims’s stepfather was on his fifth deployment to Iraq. Soon after he left, her baby brother was born. The doctor dropped the infant at birth, resulting in a host of medical problems, including internal bleeding and a broken leg. When mother and baby arrived home from the hospital, the house was flooded. They had no family nearby to help. Dahl-Sims’s mother did not want to even tell her father about the difficulties for fear of upsetting him during the deployment. The 17-year-old stepped in and helped her mother manage the clean up of the house and the baby’s medical care.
When her father returned home from the war months later, he was injured. During past deployments, he had been shot and suffered improvised explosive device blasts. On this trip, he took the brunt of several IED blasts and took shrapnel in his face. He returned home with a traumatic brain injury. He had memory problems and other difficulties. He spent much of the next year in and out of the hospital. Again, Dahl-Sims stepped in to care for her family.
In addition, Dahl-Sims and her mother decided they wanted to help other military spouses who found themselves in the same difficult situations. They created the nonprofit the North Star Group. They host baby showers on base and provide pampering for pregnant spouses whose husbands are deployed.
Operation Homefront provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors.