Month of the Military Child

Nearly 1.6 million children share an unbreakable bond unlike any other, that of children with military parents.   The month of April is devoted to spotlight these resilient, brave, and cultured children.  These children are of families whose parents serve in the United States military as Active, Reserves, or National Guard Servicemembers.  No matter the branch or affiliation, children in military families endure unique challenges and have a wealth of experience that most children cannot even imagine. These kiddos deserve their time in the spotlight.

My name is Catherine, and I am a proud Board Member of Military No Stress PCS.  I currently live in Florida, but when asked where I am “from”, I still reply with the answer of – nowhere SPECIFIC.   After PCSing 15 times in my life, I am happy to say I have lived in one state for more than three years, but that wasn’t always the case as I was born 12 years into what would turn out to be my father’s nearly 35 year Army career.  I knew no other lifestyle, and it has taken me my entire life to truly understand how different our military family was.  All I ever knew was the life of a military child, and yes, the color purple may be worn and dandelions are often featured during the month of April to show appreciation for military children, however, this isn’t sharing or educating the rest of our world what we are appreciating these kids for.

As I reconnect with family friends from 10-15 duty stations ago, we reminisce about living on the military post or base and running around with kids we just met a day ago, pausing in our tracks the moment we hear retreat play at 1700.  We felt secure inside the military base, every family keeping an eye on each other’s kids as most of us did not have local family and the military neighbors quickly became our family.  I can clearly recall the moments I would enter in new schools, sometimes welcomed with open arms while other times struggling to find my “place” in a new crowd.  Non-Military kids typically grow up together, have pictures together from the time they were in Kindergarten, and become inseparable.  I always wondered what that must feel like.  But at the same time, one of the best feelings in the world was to find out that after you moved across the country, or even to a new continent, you spot that friend you knew years ago, from a couple duty stations prior.  You pick up right where you left off, and that’s even before we had emails and social media to keep in touch!

We also shared the bond of adversity, we knew the fear when a deployment was announced, or possibly even worse, unannounced.  We knew the pride and honor our parents brought to our family, as well the constant worry and wishes to be reunited.  Often times, military service members who are deployed or TDY are on limited or no communication, leaving us eager to hear their voice and try to recap everything that happened since the last time we spoke.  Times have changed with technology, but the fear for a loved one’s safety who is in a danger zone for months or a year at a time is something you learn to cope with while the worry never lessens.

The moments and emotions you see captured on pictures or video of children running to their military Mom or Dad is real.  The complete tunnel vision you get after searching in a sea of literal camouflage, looking for your parent. It’s real.  That joyful feeling is what makes all the hard times worth it. Knowing the service these Moms and Dads give to The United States of America is a true testament of bravery, selflessness, and honor. Little did we know, but they missed us even more that we missed them.

Decades later I can now say that military families, children especially, grow up knowing how to show respect, experience cultures from all around the world, adapt to the constant change of comfort and familiar surroundings, and can make a friend faster than anyone.   This is just the surface level of my story, perhaps different from other military families, but we eventually all grow up and realize that our hardships were what made us strong, independent, and resilient members of society.

During the month of April, I ask you to not only wear purple to show your appreciation for military children, but take it a step further and break down the walls.  Include and embrace military families as if you have known them your entire life, even if you know they may only be there for one year. We all need that kind of village in our lives. I consider myself blessed to have the qualities of the dandelion used as symbol for military children.  Military children mature into adults who can bloom wherever the world may take us, thrive in the face of adversity, and form strong bonds with our family, and friends who become family.


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