For those on the outside looking in, it means mom and/or dad is fighting a war in Iraq or Afghanistan. It means having to live without their soldier for six, nine, 12, maybe even 15 months. It means not having their soldier home for holidays and birthdays. It means constantly moving. It means facing numerous challenges on a regular basis.
To the civilian world, this is often what is thought of in regards to military children. I do not know about you, but to me, this is not what being a military child is about. Yes, much of this is true, but it is not the essence of our children.
So, let me ask the question again. What does it mean to be a military child? It means the chance to live in foreign countries and several different states. It means the opportunity to visit places others only read about in books or see on television. It means understanding at a very young age that there is a whole world out there beyond your street, school and city. It means having “best friends” all over the world.
It means having brothers and sisters born in different states, maybe even different countries than you. It means having a bond with your family that is stronger than many; after all, they are with you no matter where the Army sends you. It means swelling up with pride when you hear the National Anthem. Above all else, it means the ability to say, “My mom and/or dad is a United States soldier!”
If you ask five children what it means to be a military child, you will likely get five very different answers. Being a military child is challenging, exciting, rewarding and unique. They are a special group who begin to make sacrifices at an age so young they do not even know what the word sacrifice means. Children growing up on or near a base with a soldier for a parent rarely realize the extraordinary lives they lead.
Being a military child may indeed be one of the toughest jobs in the Army. These kids are definitely worth celebrating this month, and all year long.