By Capt. Daniel K. JerniganMarch 30, 2017
April is the Month of the Military Child -- a time to honor military children for their commitment, contributions, and sacrifices.
Started by former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger in 1986, the Month of the Military Child recognizes over two million children ranging from infants to 18 years old with one or both parents serving in the military.
From frequent moves every one to three years and multiple deployments, military children have played an important role in contributing to the strength of our military families.
However, it's not always easy and there are unique challenges for military children which their non-military youth counterparts will never experience.
According to the Department of Defense, an average child in a military family will move six to nine times during a school career from kindergarten to 12th grade; an average frequency of three times more than non-military families.
Highlighting these unique circumstances is Ray F. Barros, a freshmen at nearby Copperas Cove High School with dual Army parents assigned to the U.S. Army Operational Test Command at West Fort Hood. Ray notes from the time of kindergarten until now, his family has moved four different times around the world -- Japan, Korea, Fort Huachuca, Arizona, and Fort Hood.
"The best part of being a military child is that you get to travel a lot, but along with that comes challenges as well," said Ray.
One such challenge is maintaining friendships while moving so often, a common concern experienced by military children. Making new friends is nerve wracking and can cause anxiety. However, Ray describes ways he has overcome this challenge.
"I got involved with sports and music, which gave me a big lead anywhere to make friends because those people are interested in the same things I am," Ray said. "This has always given me a sense of belonging wherever I go because of how big these extracurricular actives are and how many other people are involved in it. I've met other military kids in the same activities as me, which means I am not the only one with that mindset."
Ray's story is inspirational and demonstrates how military children are adaptive in their ability to remain resilient through uncertainty. While our society recognizes the many challenges our military children endure, it is often discounted how strong their courage and patriotism is in conquering such challenges.
Military children are tough and are proud of their parents' service to our Nation. Many credit their solid upbringing to the military values their parents bestow upon them, making them the resilient and adaptive children we see today.
In honor of the Month of the Military Child, please join military communities world-wide in recognizing these brave children by wearing purple on Friday, April 21, in support of "Purple Up! For Military Kids." Purple is a common theme during Month of the Military Child as it symbolizes all branches of the military: Army green, Navy blue, Air Force blue, Marine red, and Coast Guard blue.
If you're still searching for other ways to celebrate and honor military children for their sacrifices and commitment to the military, sometimes it is as simple as saying thank you to a military child.