Editor’s note: Military Times has profiled the winners of each service’s Operation Homefront Military Child of the Year award for 2018. All of the winners will be honored Thursday night in Washington, D.C., and will receive $10,000 and other prizes; for more about the award and for links to other honorees, click here.
Joshua Frawley’s ability to bounce back is a trait that has stood him well, he said.
When his mother was undergoing treatment for cancer, “I still had to go to school and be a normal kid,” he said. And during a time “when a couple of students in school didn’t understand who I am and were bullying me,” he said, “I contacted my school officials to get it handled, rather than letting it continue. I was able to turn my school days back to normal.”
Joshua, 15, is a freshman at White Oak High School in Jacksonville, North Carolina, and is the son of retired Marine Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Frawley and Susan Frawley. His father is a wounded warrior who was medically retired in 2012.
Susan Frawley is a sarcoma cancer survivor who had to have her leg amputated; she spent 11 months out of the past two years at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Joshua stepped up to help his grandmother keep the household functioning while his parents were away for his mother’s treatment, and has set an example for his younger sister as well as for other students.
A member of the varsity swim team at his school, Joshua also volunteers for a variety of organizations, such as the USO at Walter Reed, Toys for Tots and a local homeless shelter. He’ll be a teen mentor this summer for another military child at a camp held by the Semper Fi Fund.
Joshua has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of high-functioning autism. “He has overcome high-functioning autism, and is in all [Advanced Placement] and honors courses,” said his mother, who counts perseverance as one of Joshua’s strong character traits. In second grade, he was in speech therapy for a speech impediment. “He’s gone from that to excelling and being at the top of his class,” she said.
He carries a 3.875 grade-point average. He said he plans to use the $10,000 from the Military Child of the Year award toward college, furthering his dream of becoming an engineer.
An active advocate for children with autism, Joshua has spoken at a number of events. For more than four years, he has been a student ambassador for the SAVE (Students Against Violence Everywhere) program. In that role, he helps facilitate reporting bullying as a form of violence prevention, among other service projects.
He spreads awareness of autism, explaining to other students how children with autism may act differently in certain social situations.
“He’s accepted himself in real life that it’s OK to be different, and he uses those traits as assets, strengthens them and works on other things he needs to be well-rounded,” Susan Frawley said.
Joshua’s advice for other military children? “Have patience with others’ problems,” he said. “Don’t get mad or frustrated at anyone as easily as you might see others do so.”
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.