Twins on a Mission

Kaitlyn and Hannah Norwood 8

Meet Kaitlyn and Hannah, the optimistic service-driven twin daughters of an active duty Army Colonel who live with Mom in Texas while Dad is stationed in Washington D.C.

The girls spent most of their formative years moving every 2-3 years, but have called Texas home since the end of 7th grade. Mom and Dad always knew that they wanted their girls to have the full, sports-crazy Texas high school experience that they’d had.

The girls are thriving in Texas and they credit their many moves to that success. Kaitlyn explains, “I’ve lived in so many places, I can talk to anyone. No one’s a stranger.” Hannah adds, “We know what it’s like to be the new kid; I can spot them, and then I help them adjust.”

Overlooking their own struggles, they reach out to others. According to the girls, that’s just part of being in a military family, “Service is an essential part of everyone’s life in the military.”

Kaitlyn, who plays the trombone and is the drum major at her school, wants to be a doctor in emergency medicine. She credits her upbringing with that decision. “Through my leadership opportunities, I’ve learned to get along with all ages. I can take charge under pressure. I notice the little things; I’m very observant.” These skills will certainly help her in the medical field.

Hannah, who is in her school’s varsity choir and show choir, wants a career in psychology. She fell in love with the field in her AP Psychology class. “I love to listen and I can relate to different types of people because of my experiences. Living all over the US, and in England and Belgium, exposed me to different cultures, races, and religions. I don’t judge others.”

But life isn’t all about high school, marching band, and musicals. The girls miss their Dad—especially when he isn’t there for big events—and there are lots of them for these active high school juniors.

During Dad’s four deployments to Southwest Asia and Afghanistan, the girls learned to adjust and rely on their mom, “It was just the three of us and our dog.” Being stationed in DC now, Dad tries to get home every 2-3 months and for that they are grateful.

When asked about other hardships they endured, Hannah relates, “We could see our relatives only once or twice a year—less when we were overseas.” And Kaitlyn adds, “When we knew ahead of time that we’d be moving, it made us reluctant to form deep attachments.”

Always searching for the bright side, the girls happily declare that they have friends all over the globe and use social media to stay connected. Hannah’s best friend lives in Dubai.

Both girls are enjoying the connections they are making in the Gratitude Initiative (GI) College Success Academy. Kaitlyn says, “I like that I can call them and ask questions because the counselors at my school aren’t very helpful on an individual basis.” Hannah loves the step-by-step guidance, “I got an email just the other day reminding me to sign up for the SAT by Friday. That was a big help!”

Mom pipes in, “I love that GI honors military kids for the service and sacrifices they’ve made.” That is something we at GI are very proud to do.

Kaitlyn and Hannah are on a mission to change the world for the better with their can-do attitude and devotion to serving others, and we are moved that with GI’s college and career planning program, we can help make that happen.

Gratitude Initiative (GI) is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit that provides essential education programs and college scholarships to military and veteran kids around the globe. GI’s programs are provided at no cost to the children and families of military service members, veterans, disabled veterans, and those killed in defense of our country.