By Tomeka Jones, CNN
(CNN) April is the Month of the Military Child, which recognizes and salutes an estimated 1.9 million American children of military families. Meet Erika Booth, the 2012 Marine Corps Child of the Year. For the second year, Operation Homefront has awarded Military Child of the Year to young leaders, like Booth, from each branch of the military. The winners receive the honor for their resilience and community impact.
CNN Student News recently talked to Erika about her life as a military child.
CNN: What has life been life for you as a military child?
Erika Booth: I've moved 5 times, been in 6 schools, lived in 8 houses. I've actually really enjoyed being a military child just because I can say my dad fights for our country every day and that's his job and not everyone can say that.
CNN: What would you say is the hardest part about being a military child?
Booth: The hardest thing is the deployments, definitely; I've gone through 10 of them so I definitely know that is the hardest thing. My dad has missed my first day of school since 8th grade and I'm a junior in high school now. You just really have to know in your heart that they're going to come back and having family and friends really helps with that. Military children are always more resilient to things.
CNN: Erika, would you be willing to discuss with us how health issues have affected your life personally?
Booth: Having lupus has made me more responsible. When I was diagnosed and I was in the hospital I hit a brick wall and I was like I can either choose to do something or I can sit at home and stop my life. And I decided I need to keep going with my life it's not going to stop me.
CNN: I want to point out to our viewers that your brother Dylan has autism. How would you describe your relationship with him?
Booth: He's very independent now, he's 13, he's a teenager. We're now getting into that brother-sister relationship that we should have had years ago. And we bicker a lot, we fight but we're still very close.
CNN: Talk to us about how you help care for your younger brother.
Booth: All his motor skills and his sensory things, they're hypersensitive, so things that wouldn't bother us would bother people with autism and other spectrum disorders.
CNN: What advice do you have for students who might have a classmate with autism or a sibling who has it?
Booth: So really, just have an open mind when you meet someone with autism or another spectrum disorder because that's really all you can ask for, and then try to just understand them, even though it's hard and just take them for who they are.
CNN: Those are greater challenges then most people face. What keeps you going?
Booth: Basically, what keeps me going is my love and enjoyment of helping everyone. I enjoy being on committees and planning things, and volunteering and seeing that I am making difference in my community.
CNN: What advice do you have for students who are facing adversity?
Booth: You can face all sorts of adversity but nothing really fits for each problem but really you need to take it full on. I hope they see that if I can do it they can do it and it will inspire others to face their problems and succeed in life.