Military Kids Talk About What Makes Them Military Kid Strong

April is the Month of the Military Child, a time to recognize and show appreciation for the 1.8 million U.S. military-connected children. Here at the Military Kids Connect program, we have been celebrating all month long—asking military kids to share their stories of strength and resilience, and tell us how they are “Military Kid Strong”.

Here are some of the responses we’ve received:

“I've been moving around since I was 18 months old. I'm strong because I've never let that get in the way of making really good friends and doing extracurriculars. And, I don't let it make me depressed because I've been to so many places. Japan is my favorite and I'm going to stay here for life. I'm military kid strong because I've never let my constant life at airports stop me from anything.” -S.

“As of this month (April 2016) my family has done our sixth move with the military. I have lived in 14 houses in my lifetime (15 years). This move was different than others; my dad (USN corpsman) was at instructor school and couldn't help out a lot. So this move—with the help of one other family, my mom and I moved our family of seven in a FULL DITY [military Do-It-Yourself] move. This move taught me a lot about the military family bond. Being stationed at 29 Stumps [Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, CA] was hard. But the bond of the military family is stronger than the bond between extended blood family! My siblings are the strongest military kids I know.” -K.

“My dad is in the Navy, therefore I am a Navy brat because we constantly move around the country. We were stationed in Washington state for around seven years when my dad was promoted to Chief Petty Officer. We decided to buy a house since we had been renting ours for a while. Six days after we moved into our house, my sister, 15, was struck and killed by a car while walking to her bus stop. My dad requested to be stationed at a MEPS center in our hometown. After all of the losses and moves and giving up friends and family, I've come out strong. Being a military kid has taught me so much. I take nothing for granted and can now see that at any moment, something you love can be taken away from you.” -C.

“My adoptive father was a Marine. We moved all over the place when I was a kid and it was hard, but when my father got sick and I got put back in foster care, I stayed strong for him—he always had faith in me. Now, when I turn 17, I'm hoping to join the Marines and follow in his footsteps.” -K

“I am military kid strong because I was only a baby when my father joined the United States military. When I was a little kid, I always knew there was a 50/50 chance I’d never see my dad again. With that, I always gave my brothers a positive idea of my dad. He was away for some of my birthdays—and I’m not going to lie, I hated it and cried—but I knew he was doing what was right. I also hated the fact we moved a lot, because it meant I had to start all over again. Looking back, I’m glad I got to travel to these places, which were Colorado, Germany, New York and Virginia, before moving back home to Massachusetts where we reside now. I am proud of my dad and all he has accomplished, and it had made me into the person I am today and for that I am grateful to be #militarykidstrong.” -K

“At first it was hard for me to know that my dad wasn't always going to be here. We have had a lot of support and love from many other military families. My dad is currently retired and is now working for them as a civilian. I guess you could say he is my superhero.” -K

And these are just a few of the stories that military kids have to share—we are so inspired by their strength and resilience! It isn’t always easy to move so frequently (the average military child moves six to nine times during childhood), to perpetually be the “new kid,” to have a parent away on deployment, or to deal with the changes when your family makes the transition from military to civilian life.

T2 has resources to support military kids as they face these challenges. For kids ages 6 to 17, the award-winning Military Kids Connect website (militarykidsconnect.dcoe.mil) features engaging interactive activities, stress-reduction tools, videos of military kids talking about their experiences, animated graphic stories and a moderated message board for peer-to-peer support. For children ages 5 and under, the Sesame Street for Military Families website (sesamestreetformilitaryfamilies.org ) offers multimedia tools and mobile apps (such as The Big Moving Adventure, an interactive story that guides children through a move) to help preschool children and their families cope with these transitions.

Do you know any military kids? If you do, ask what makes them Military Kid Strong. You’ll be inspired by their stories—and be sure to tell them about the resources available to support them. Happy Month of the Military Child!

Cindy Alexander, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist for the Mobile Health Program and lead of the Military Kids Connect program at the National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2)

The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Center for Telehealth & Technology, the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

 

Read other posts by Dr. Cindy Alexander