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April is the month of the military child

Spend just a few minutes with a military child of any age and you’ll understand the true meaning of “freedom isn’t free.” Here is what some of these truly remarkable children say about the blessings and challenges of their lives.

“It is what it is and makes me tougher. Sometimes I hate it. Sometimes I love it. But I can spot another military kid a mile away because nobody loves as hard and fast as we do.” – Teagan, age 18.

“I feel sad a lot because Daddy is gone all the time and we don’t get to spend time with him,” – Sam, age 9

“When I’m at a new school, I want to tell people that I’m a Navy kid, so they’ll give me a chance, but if they know that right off the bat, they aren’t interested in investing in me as a friend.” – Ava, age 14

“Moving is fun because you get to see new places but it’s hard to leave friends. It’s also hard to go to new schools and make new friends.” – Ethan, age 11

“Knowing that my family contributes to protecting our country feels valuable and honorable.” – Cole, age 14

Each April since 1986, the Month of the Military Child has afforded the military community and the entire country a chance to recognize and honor these extraordinary young heroes.

Despite the sometimes-heartbreaking nature of being the child of a service member, these kids are brave, resilient, adaptable, and thrive wherever they land. There are more than 1.6 million military children. Military families move an average of every two to three years. As a result, these children must build their own extended families, learn to navigate the challenges of new school curriculums and peer groups, and adapt to new climates and even languages and cultures.

Military children come in all stripes. Some are more cautious, tentatively scanning unfamiliar classrooms for friendly faces. Others are bolder, diving in with both feet and loving the variety that a military life affords. Regardless, these kids are incredibly brave and serve our country every bit as much as their parents do.

“They’ve had to move because of what the Navy asked me to do with no choice in the matter because they are kids,” said Rich, a recently retired Naval officer, of his children.

“They didn’t ask for this life. They never volunteered, but they’ve done it well,”

Building fortitude

While much has been said and written about the adverse effects of repeated moves and parental deployments, it is also true that military children do excel and even benefit in some very essential ways.

“My girls talk about how they missed on having ‘childhood friends’ that all grew up together,” said Jennifer, a military spouse. “I try to tell them they have that to a degree, they’re just different groups of kids spread out all over the world now.”
These same experiences foster growth, tolerance, and fortitude. In addition, the military community often affords built-in support and traditions that give military children a sense of belonging.

“When we lived on base, my children roamed from house to house. Our neighbors were like family. It was safe enough for them to ride their bikes all over the place,” said Madeleine, a former military spouse. “It was such a special experience and I know they’ll remember and treasure it for the rest of their lives.”

Showing support

Purple is the color of the Month of the Military Child because it combines each military branch’s colors into one: the Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard all use shades of blue, the Army uses green, and the Marines use red. One easy way that families, schools, and communities can show support and honor military youth for their strength and sacrifice is by donning the color.

Visit these websites for more ideas, resources, and virtual events for the Month of the Military Child:

What inspiring stories do you have about the military children in your life?

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