Monday, April 7, 2014

Celebrating The Month Of The Military Child

Every special interest group seems to have their own day, week, or month in which to be recognized and as such, April has been designated the "month of the military child". In 1986 then Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger first designated April as the month to honor military children in an effort to recognize the contributions and sacrifices military children make as their parent(s) serve their country in the military. Military children move more frequently than their civilian peers, they experience extended separations when their parents are deployed, and in many respects their lives are often on the verge of upheaval. While all military family members must deal with these circumstances, because they are still developing emotionally and intellectually, children are often less equipped to deal with these challenges. But somehow they do because they must. There really isn't any other alternative. But because of this, military kids are also incredibly resilient and they are more adept at dealing with life changing challenges. I've been hearing the Department of Defense's campaign about this for years and despite our affiliation as an active duty military family, really hadn't given it a whole lot of thought. Until recently.

We are incredibly fortunate to not have experienced a deployment since Sidney was born and given the point we are at in Glenn's career, it is likely that Sidney will never have to live with such an extended separation from his father. For this I am incredibly grateful. However, Sidney has dealt with the long hours, missed dinners and unexpected phone calls that are all a part of Glenn's job. He has alternately responded to them with tears, bursts of anger, and sad resignation (which from my perspective is perhaps the most heartbreaking response of all). And then there are the moves. At the young age of four and half Sidney has lived in four separate houses in three different countries since he was born. Our most recent move was the first one he remembers and it was by all accounts an incredibly upsetting and difficult experience for all of us. Perhaps future moves will get easier but watching my little boy struggle to comprehend that he was leaving the world he knew behind forever was almost too much for this Mamma to watch. The adjustment to his new environment, a new house, a new school and routine, and making new friends has been anything but easy. But as I had been promised by so many other military moms out there, he is adjusting and showing true resilience. I'd like to promise Sidney that he won't have to go through this again but I can't. Actually I can promise him that he will have to do it all over again in just three short years. Maybe that move will be the last one but then again, maybe it won't. This life definitely has its perks but with every benefit there is a cost and constant moves, uncertainty and upheaval are some of those costs.

So during the month of April the Department of Defense is celebrating and recognizing military children. Most military bases and installations are hosting child centered events and activities. They may be big or small but all focus on the kids. I am constantly hearing the message that we need to thank the military and their families for their service and sacrifice and I couldn't agree more. But for this month let us specifically thank a military child for what they have (unknowingly) given in support of their country. After all the military member doesn't do it alone.

So here's to my military child and all of his peers, both American and international. You didn't choose this lifestyle; rather you were born into it. But you all put up with it, adjust and persevere and because of this, you guys are awesome!

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