The children of U.S. Servicemembers grow up very differently than the civilian population. Often a parent is gone for months at a time and if a parent is injured in combat their lives are often turned upside down. Despite this hardship, they learn to be resilient and bravely face adversity with grace.
True to her name, Gracie Burgess, an exceptional recipient of a Freedom Alliance scholarship, recently launched a podcast to highlight and share the stories and experiences of military children like herself. Her podcast is called “Grace of the Military Child.”
“It is not easy being a military child,” she said, “but it is important to know you are not alone! I feel that it is important for other military kids to know that how they feel is okay. Other kids feel that way too.”
Gracie’s father, SSG Daniel Burgess, joined the Army after graduation from high school where he served until 2003. He then spent the next several years continuing to serve his country with the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department in Cleveland, Ohio.
Burgess rejoined the Army in 2010 and, when Gracie was just eight years old, deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 where he conducted Psychological Operations. While there, he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED). He lost his right leg below the knee, suffered severe damage to his left leg, and sustained multiple other injuries.
Ten years after his injury, Gracie is very grateful to have her dad by her side. They share a special bond over their love for sports. She said:
“If this injury taught us anything, it would be to enjoy these precious life moments because one day they are here and the next day they are gone. We are not on this earth for long, and I was very fortunate that my dad made it back alive when so many were not as lucky.”
Freedom Alliance met SSG Burgess in 2014 when he and his family (including Gracie!) participated in a Freedom Alliance Hero’s Vacation in Alaska with Grammy Award winning recording Artist Michael W. Smith.
In 2016, Freedom Alliance provided the gift of mobility through the gift of an all-terrain wheelchair, customized to his needs.
We got to know Gracie a little better in 2020 when she applied for our scholarship program.
Gracie is now about to complete her freshman year at Florida Gulf Coast University. She is pursuing a major in Health Sciences with a minor in Marketing. Upon graduation, she plans to complete a master’s degree in Athletic Training. Her dream is to work for the WWE as part of their athletic training staff.
Gracie’s sister Kaylee will be starting at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, in the fall, also on scholarship with Freedom Alliance. She plans to pursue a major in Human Development and Family Studies.
Recently, Freedom Alliance’s Director of Programs Josh Miles spent some time talking with Gracie about her dad, military children, and her new podcast.
Freedom Alliance works every day to “Heal the Wounds of War” and we know that it’s the entire family which serves. We would like to thank Daniel, Genette, Gracie and Kaylee all for their service and sacrifice for our nation.