Note: This commentary was spoken to students and parents at the Hoke County Schools Month of the Military Child Celebration, April 23, 2018 at East Hoke Middle School, Raeford, N.C.
Good Evening.

There are over 4,300 amazing Military Children in Hoke County and over 2,000 in the school system. Tonight, we are here to honor them and their families.

"The Month of the Military Child, established by, then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger in 1986, recognizes some 1.9 million U.S. Military Children ranging in age from infants to 18-year-olds who have one of both parents serving in the Armed Forces," said Barbara Thompson, the director of the DoD's Office of Family Readiness Policy.

This year's theme is "Brave Hearts, Resilient souls."

Ms. Thompson continued, "We want to highlight their sacrifices and support of the military member in their families. Permanent change of station moves, deployments and training activities, among other facets of military life, can present unique challenges to children must constantly adjust to distance, unfamiliarity and uncertain schedules."

But talking about experiences for a month compared to becoming immersed in experiences are two different things. Let us briefly look at it, realistically.

What is a Military Child?

What does being a Military Child mean? It means change. It means leaving best friends. It means always being the new kid.

What does being a Military Child feel like? It feels like frustration. It feels like sadness. It feels like having to start over from scratch, again.

What does being a Military Child look like? It looks like a smile on the outside, but a silent sob on the inside. It looks like nobody asked for my opinion, again. It looks like packing.

Being a Military Child is so much more than this.

Being a Military Child is about making new friends and keeping in touch with the old ones. It means new classes, new houses. It means -- more boxes.
Being a Military Child feels like changing and becoming someone new. It feels like a fresh start. It feels like "I am resilient." I have been through this before, I know I can do it again. It feels like -- more boxes.

Being a Military Child looks like welcoming the new kid to your table because you were once the new kid. It looks like helping the new students in school learn where their classes are and which teachers are the nice ones. It looks like being best friends with your siblings and being there when they don't realize they need your support. Being a Military Child means, feels, and looks like you are the strongest member of the family and keep everyone else going -- because you keep going.

The strength of our nation is built on the readiness and resilience of every member of the all-volunteer Army -- including children. Their service and sacrifice should be respected and appreciated.
Army children are committed in the support for their Soldier, family and patriotism and have always been a vital part of the Army's ability to stand strong with Soldiers.
Students, being a Military Child is hard; it will never not be hard. Being a Military Child means that your capacity to do good and to be an influence for good is drastically increased. You have the chance to change everyone's lives around you for the better. Will you take that chance?

Step up! Stand up! Stand Out!

When things get difficult, Step Up! When things get hard for others, Stand Up! Do something. When things go well, Stand Out!

All Military Children here, Stand Up!

We applaud you. Thank you, Military Children, for sacrificing time with your families and missing those significant milestones that so many others take for granted. Thank you, Military Children, who find yourselves living nomadic lives, often far away from the support of loved ones. Thank you, Military Children, who accept your parent's absence as a way of live and understand you share them with a nation and the world.

Thank you, Military Children, who have nothing but prayers to protect your parents. Thank your for serving as a heroic example of what the Army is, and what others dream to be. Thank you for stepping forward when others step back.

Thank you for stepping up, standing up, and standing out. We applaud you for all you do and have accomplished and all you have yet to accomplish.

Thank you.