Ann Margaret Gacutan, a student in the U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria community, entered the second/third grade age category of the 2018 Young Lives, BIG Stories Contest and won the first place prize. (Photo by Lisa Greco, USAG Bavaria MWR)


GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — The Young Lives, BIG Stories contest gives kids from age 3 through grade 12 the opportunity to share the ups and downs of military family life in words and art. The contest is part of the annual Month of the Military Child celebration, which is hosted Army-wide each year in April.


This year, U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria celebrates the achievement of a winning participant in the 2018 Young Lives, BIG Stories contest.


Ann Margaret Gacutan entered the second/third grade age category and won the first place prize – a tablet. Each student in her gifted class at Vilseck Elementary School was encouraged to participate by drawing their own understanding of “what it is to be a military child.”


Military children face many challenges within short periods of time, which was reflected in this year’s theme “Brave Hearts, Resilient Souls.”


Unlike other children, military kids are confronted with frequent moves, new schools and deployed parents. In 1986, the Month of the Military Child was instituted by the Department of Defense, with the aim to honor the hardship and challenges these young lives endure.


Ann Margaret’s drawing pictures a face with a sad side and a happy side.


“Drawing the picture, I was thinking about the times my dad would leave for a long period of time, the frequent moves and leaving friends and family behind, so I drew a sad face,” Ann Margaret said. “But thinking of my dad coming home again, making new friends and seeing new places made me draw a happy side too.”


Her artwork describes her emotions and experiences since becoming an Army child. Her father, who is currently stationed in Vilseck as a medic, used to be a teacher before enlisting in the U.S. Army. Since then, Ann Margaret, her little sister and parents moved once before calling Vilseck their new home. Born and raised in Chicago, Ann Margaret is excited to be in Germany and looks forward to her grandparents visiting.


Congratulations to Ann Margaret and all children who participated in the contest. Seven winners in all were selected from the following installations: Fort Campbell (two winners), Army National Guard (two winners), Fort Huachuca, USAG Wiesbaden and USAG Bavaria.


For more information on the 2019 contest, visit

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