DGF Senior Keira White selected as Navy Finalist in Military Child of the Year Award
By MCC(SW/AW) Lauren Howes
A Senior at Naval Station Rota, Spain’s David Glasgow Farragut (DGF) High School, was selected as one of five finalists to represent the Navy in Operation Homefront’s Military Child of the Year Award.
Keira Vida Hannon White is a proud daughter of a Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) teacher, retired Navy commander, and granddaughter to two State Department diplomatic attachés means she is no stranger to the norms and uniqueness that comes with the territory of being a military child.
Keira, a self-described third-culture kid, who was born and raised in Rota, Spain, is Student Body President and active member of the DGF Model United Nations, Model United States Senate (MUSS), Educators Rising, and Peer Mediation and Mentoring.
“My passion for politics and knowledge have fueled my infatuation for academic programs,” said Keira. Educators Rising and MUSS are her two favorite organizations. She enjoys Educators Rising because it embodies learning and connectivity, and MUSS because it fosters a healthy environment for debate as well as compromise and discussion.
“Because Model Senate revolves around creating and following the same steps the sitting senate follows in terms of passing legislation, it made it so I could understand what was going on when the Hannon Act was being passed,” said Keira. “The process that needed to be undergone and how different senators needed to sponsor it and it had to pass both houses of legislation before the president signed it.”
In 2019, the 116th Congress signed the Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act into public law. The law aims to improve mental health services and increased suicide prevention efforts for service members transitioning to civilian life. The bipartisan law included focusing suicide prevention efforts by expanding resources to include non-Veterans Affairs community providers, improving telehealth services for rural veterans, studying holistic therapies such as meditation and acupuncture, and implementing integrative health programs like sports, recreation and agriculture.
White reflected on the last few years of her father’s life and how unconventional therapy helped him cope with severe PTSD and bi-polar disorder along with giving her a better understanding of her father and ways to connect with him.
“In the last couple of years of my dad’s life, he really found comfort in the Montana nature and scenery along with animal therapy,” said Keira. “In 2017, I spent the summer with him in Helena, Montana. We did a lot of outdoor activities. Because of the time we spent together was in nature I often find his presence in nature even here in Rota, Spain.”
Keira’s father died from suicide on February 25, 2018.
“I heard about my father’s death when I got back from a ski trip with some friends and my first response was I had to go to school the next day because I had an algebra test,” said Keira. “I powered through the grief I was feeling through school and exercising, but when my sophomore year rolled around my coping mechanisms had evaporated, and I had to build my own footing from scratch, and I had to deal with the reality of my situation.”
Suicide affects everyone differently and how each person copes with the death of a loved one differs. More than 7,000 children under age 18 lose a parent each year to suicide in the United States according to a study written by Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center Holly C. Wilcox.
“My friends, family and teachers were supportive and helped me build myself back up and build my footing I had lost so that I could keep on going forward,” said Keira. “My experience and going through my own grieving process has helped me help others find themselves in the same situation or notice when others need extra support.”
She goes on to explain, “everyone has bad days, and we need to accept bad days are a part of the journey, not the end of the journey.”
Like any proud parent, Keira’s mother, Linda White, saw her abilities as a child and knew that she only had to encourage Keira to excel in areas of academia, volunteerism, leadership, and extracurricular involvement all while facing the challenges of military family life.
“I see her resilience,” said White. “She has taken her personal loss and used the learning to assist and aid her fellow classmates.”
The military does not treat suicide as a taboo topic and conducts prevention and awareness training multiple times a year, but for other populations, that often is not the case.
“In adolescence, no one wants to bring up the subject of death,” said White. “Growing numbers of U.S. teens are struggling with mental illness. Tackling this taboo has meant taking action, as she lost her father. Keira Vida has been a mediator and mentor to her peers because she knows the reactions, cycles, and slow healing that come when you live through loss.”
Keira has used her education as an opportunity to share the importance she feels for assisting others via mental health awareness and understanding political reform.
“I applied for the Military Child of the Year scholarship because I wanted to shed light on the legacy my dad left behind,” said Keira. “He was devoted to his career and the military and when he was healing himself he was devoted to nature and animals and to helping other veterans that found themselves in similar situations. I find that I mirror this devotion in my own passions in how I love politics, debate and helping others.”
“Vida is one of the most passionate and curious people I have ever met,” said DGF Middle High School Language Arts and Humanities teacher Genevieve Chavez. “She is motivated and she makes it a point to help others. I have seen her in the community and in my classroom and in both contexts she does a great job of uplifting other people’s voices and I think that speaks to her character because she does not just look out for herself but she looks out for other people.”
Keira has been accepted into her first choice degree program, a joint program through the College of William and Mary in Virginia and University of St. Andrews in Scotland. She plans to study international relations with an emphasis on election systems.
In its 13th year, the Military Child of the Year Award reflects the positive impact that impressive young people have made on their military families, their schools and communities.
The annual awards program recognizes eight outstanding young people ages 13 to 18 who are legal dependents of service members or military retirees. Seven Military Child of the Year recipients will represent a branch of the armed forces – the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard and Space Force – demonstrating resiliency, leadership, and achievement during their parents’ military service. The eighth award is the Military Child of the Year Award for Innovation. This award goes to a military child who has designed a bold and creative solution to address a local, regional or global challenge.
|Date Posted:||10.19.2021 08:43|
This work, DGF Senior Keira White Selected As Navy Finalist in Military Child of the Year Award, by CPO Lauren Howes, identified by DVIDS, must comply with the restrictions shown on https://www.dvidshub.net/about/copyright.