April is the Month of the Military Child so the next time you thank a service member for his or her service, don’t forget to include the children who give up so much as their parents serve.
Contending with frequent moves, new schools, deployments and separations, parents struggling with combat injuries or trauma, these military-connected kids carry a unique weight — often invisible, often unacknowledged.
The children of active-duty service members move an average of six to nine times during their school years. Compared to the general public, that’s three times more often than civilians.
All that relocating can come with extraordinary benefits like learning new languages and experiencing new cultures. For many kids, the military experience cultivates resilience and adaptability. Ask any teacher in a class with military children and they will tell you that the military children are used to diversity, can handle change well, are quick-thinkers, and develop an early ability to adapt to many situations.
But repeated upheaval is not always without consequences. A person’s mental state doesn’t always make it through the move as neatly as the packed boxes.
Additionally, today’s military children have not seen a peace-time military but have had to cope with frequent and seemingly endless deployments. These deployments also brought the reality of mom or dad coming home with a combat injury or with the invisible wounds of trauma such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Traumatic Brain Injury.
The military is making huge efforts to provide access to free programs that develop resilience and wellness. But interaction with these programs remains an issue. Now more than ever, military families are moving off base and living in the civilian community. Around 80 percent of kids in the military attend a public school not associated with the Department of Defense (DoD).
As a community, it is our duty to acknowledge and support our military children, especially in a military town such as ours. Military children, especially during deployments, will have an increased chance of becoming depressed, developing sleep issues and anxiety, and even becoming suicidal. These kids are worried about their deployed parents while they might also be coping with a less than ideal situation at home with one parent gone.
Let’s love our military children, cherish them, and support them! One way you can help them is to become familiar with resources available to them in our community!
Here are just a few of the major service providers for military children: