Essay Contest Winners
Ian Trzbiak K-3
I like being a military kid. Life is pretty good. I get to see all the different things when we move to different places. I get to see new animals and find new places to eat. Every time we move we get to see what our new home looks like. When I get to my new home I like to see where things are. I look at how big it is and then I find the kitchen. You get to find new things to do in your new city or country. There are fun places to go, like museums.
I like meeting new people and different families and making new friends. Our military neighbors moved to Europe. They’re probably learning a new language. After I moved I learned to ride a horse and I became a cub scout. Some friends don’t move if they’re not military families. I would rather move because I get to try new things everywhere I go. When my family comes to visit me at a new post I say “can I show you around?”. They tell me they like my new house.
I think it’s pretty nice that my dad is in the military. I am proud of him. My dad protects us. He wears a jacket with all of his military things on it and I think he looks cool. It’s hard when my dad leaves. Sometimes I can do fun things to distract myself from missing dad. People in the Army work really hard and they keep people safe.
If my dad wasn’t in the military I would miss having adventures. I don’t like being a military kid, I love it.
Being A Military Child By Eleanor Pierson (4th-8th)
Are you a military child, or do you know any? Well, I am a military child. It is the only life I’ve known. As you may have heard, there are good and bad things about being a military child. In my opinion, the good things outweigh the negative things. I will tell you about three of the best things about being a military child.
First, military children get to make new friends. Every time I move, I make new friends. I keep in touch with my friends after I move away or after they move. When my friends are not military themselves, they sometimes want to visit me, or at least just chat over the phone. Sometimes if my friends’ parents are in the military too, I see them again at a different place. By the time I am an adult, I will have friends all around the world.
Next, military children get to visit and see really cool places. When I lived in England, I went inside Buckingham Palace. When I lived in Japan, I got to go to all the cool places there, and my family traveled to Vietnam and Cambodia. In Washington D.C., I got to see the White House, and all the other cool buildings around there. Now I am near St. Louis, and I have been inside the Arch. I love travelling! In total, I have been to 18 countries.
Finally, military children get to take pride in saying they are military children. It is a great feeling to know that I have a parent who is serving our country. This is actually the best thing of all about being a military child!
As you can see, there are multiple things that are good about being a military child. You can make new friends and keep the old. You get to visit and see new places. You also get to have pride in saying you are a military child. Sure, it has its negatives, but there are so many more good things. I love being a military child.
Noah Ling, 8th grade
Some might say that being a military child is a bad thing. They’ll tell you that moving around and switching schools is not only unpleasant, but has lasting negative effects on us as people. After all, it sucks to lose your friends over and over again, right? Doesn’t this lifestyle cause trauma and anxiety in children? They might argue that it must make us feel lonely and separate from others, like uprooted trees. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. While military children do have to put up with frequent moving and new schools, these experiences don’t ruin, but rather strengthen us. They build us up instead of knocking us down.
My father has been serving in the Air Force since before my birth. Some of my first memories are from growing up on a military base. At that time, I’d only moved once before, and the whole concept was new to me. I wasn’t yet old enough to grasp its significance. The second time I moved was much worse, as I didn’t want to be separated from my friends. No one does, really, and it became an especially frustrating process once I realized that this would go on forever. I would continue moving for the rest of my childhood, and there was nothing I could do about it. I felt like a leaf in a category 5 hurricane: without direction, control, or any certainty whatsoever.
Fortunately, I, like so many other military kids out there, learned to make the best of it. The excitement of new places to see, new friends to make, is always enticing. We learn to move on, to be resilient. My favorite part of moving is that my new experiences shape me as a person. Being in the military has given me multiple insights on myself, as well as life in general.
Perhaps it’s just me, but having moved several times now, I enjoy the variety and adventure military life offers. I’d hate to be confined and stuck in one place forever, and I’m a wanderer by nature. I enjoy the feeling of adventure. As a military kid, life is unpredictable. We learn to make the best of what we have, all the while living in anticipation of where we’re headed next. We become our own home, finding comfort not in places, but people. That idea of impermanence, the opportunity to explore and be shaped by the places I visit, is absolutely priceless. Military kids don’t grow roots, but wings.
After having lived in one place and moving elsewhere; that feeling of uncertainty and adventure, it’s wonderful. That moment you say your goodbyes to the places and people you had the pleasure of knowing, the fortune of experiencing, it’s familiar. I suppose the only thing consistent with such a life is the inconsistency of it. Again and again, I force myself to look forward, not back. Then I spread my wings, and fly, wondering where the wind will take me.
Anna Galeno 12th grade
The best advice I have for younger military children is …
Get involved. Participating in activities such as Model UN, Junior Science and Humanities Symposium, or any clubs, sports or honors music events that allow you to travel. Take it all in. Do activities you love. Meet others that are like-minded. Connect with them. You will probably bump into them in the future, especially in DoDEA. This will give you a strengthened sense of community.
Stay in touch. If your parents allow it, use an app such as Instagram or WhatsApp to keep in touch with your friends. Your addresses and numbers will change, but these apps will be a great tool in your tool box. In addition, instagram is a great way to network at the aforementioned events above. Most everyone has an account and its a nice way to stay connected with those you met at those activities.
Take Advantage of Opportunities. I know it’s annoying hearing others console you about moving so much by saying that you get a lot of experiences but there is truth to it. At every duty station try to visit the prominent attractions (even out of season). This especially applies to people overseas: Go explore the world. Take advantage of the opportunities that arise with each move and learn something new about a culture, language, area in general, and maybe even yourself through these learnings.
Invest in Yourself. It’s tough being a military kid. I myself have had 10+ addresses and lived in multiple countries throughout my time as a military brat. This has taken a toll on my family and my mental health. Take time to invest in yourself and build upon skills that you can carry through each move. This will make sure that you always have something to fall back on during hard times. For instance, embroidery, a relatively inexpensive hobby; you can take all of the materials you need for a project with you in a small bag so it’s a great example of a hobby for military kids on the move. Taking up embroidery has given me peace of mind as while I’m working with my hands I’m establishing peace of mind. It’s a way to get out of my head and simply enjoy something for a while. If I’m missing friends I’ll make something for them, it is yet another way to stay connected. Other hobbies like this may include playing video games with friends, reading, sewing, drawing, or academics (for my fellow nerds, learning can be a productive escape).
Ground yourself. A bit similar to investing in yourself but with a focus on avoiding anxiety – something that can become overwhelming considering our lifestyle. We will always be facing the unknown. Find something to ground yourself with. Something that can root you. This way you will not get lost in anxiety or any spiraling thoughts that may become unhealthy. Maybe yoga is the way to go for you. For me, it’s my cello. It provides me with calm, stability even when so many things change and so many things in the future are unknown, such as where you may go to school in a few months or which continent you will live on.
Get Out. Walk. Breathe some fresh air. Ride your bike. Do something if you feel stuck. I realize this may not be an option for some, but if you are feeling stuck and alone right after a move; get out. Force yourself to take a walk around your new neighborhood, take in your surroundings and clear your head a bit. This may ease some anxieties you have about starting somewhere fresh as you start to familiarize yourself with your new environment. In the same vein, don’t isolate yourself at school. Talk to people, even if it seems scary. A lot of other kids are friendlier and more open to making new friendships than you might think at first. You might think: “What’s the point? I’ll just move anyways”. Thoughts like these are self-destructive, there is always a point to anything but that is up to you to find. For me with the example above, I know that I’ll make good memories with my good friends, it ensures that I live life to its fullest and with no regrets. I also know that I’ll keep in touch with my friends via social media and I can always preserve those memories with pictures, scrapbooking, and/or journaling (some more examples of productive hobbies from the last bit of advice).