The month of April is known for numerous holidays such as Easter, April Fools’ Day and Earth Day. However, what many people don’t know is that April is also the Month of the Military Child. This is a special time of the year dedicated to honoring the children of military parents all over the world. UMHB takes great pride in recognizing students who fall into that category.
There are approximately two million military children all over the U.S., ranging from newborns all the way up to 18-year-olds (sheerid). Their lives seem to be no easy task, as many of them endure lots of challenges such as anxiety, separation and relocation. “One of the most challenging things about being a military kid is moving around,” said Micki Hutchins, a freshman social work major. “I learned to only make surface-level friends because moving away from a best friend after two to three years over and over again became too painful. However, I have a great relationship with my immediate family because of this.”
Many organizations around the world take advantage of the month and hold events to honor those who are children of military parents. The Department of Defense Education Activity and The Department of Defense team work together to encourage schools to plan events dedicated to the Month of the Military Child.
Operation Megaphone is a worldwide event dedicated to connecting military teens around the world and helping them discuss everyday issues that they face. Many group seven hold specific days for people to wear purple in an effort to show their support. A lot of organizations also hold events such as contests and festivals. Senior filmstudies major Viranda Brooks described events that she has participated in.
“When I was younger and lived on a base in Germany, they had a big carnival with free prizes and food,” she said. “It was a lot of fun.”
While their parents are deployed in other parts of the country, many dependents have to find ways to cope with the fact that their parents are gone. Some children do not understand why their parents have to leave for such long periods of time, and this can make them angry. Being able to communicate is one of the most important ways children of military parents can deal with their parents’ absence.
Writing letters is one of the main ways they communicate, as many people in the military do not have access to cell phones or other communication devices. It is also important for people of authority such as teachers, counselors and non-military parents to be as helpful and supportive as possible.
“I would always go to my mom and see how he [her father] was doing,” says Maria Cox, a sophomore church music major. “Sometimes she would know and sometimes not, so it was all about pa- tience. It was really just my mom and I for a long time, so I was so dependent on her. And she would also tell me stories of his travels and let me read the letters he sent us. Sometimes he would call on the landline, but we always had to wait for a response.
I just prayed to God that he would get back safely.” Though many people struggle with the deployment of their loved ones, there are some benefits as well. Many children gain higher levels of maturity than others because of their ability to cope with difficult situations. They also tend to be more family-oriented than others might be. “The thing I’ve learned from being a military child was that I had a goal and father figure to look up to,”said Cox. “And that to appreciate our loved ones while they’re still with us, because they could be gone the next day, and not seeing him for five years was terrifying, especially if he didn’t come back.”
Most importantly, military children grow up with a strong sense of love and sacrifice for their country. Because of this, many of them go into service-oriented careers such as law enforcement, the medical field, and of course, taking after their loved ones and joining the military.