Military kids learn to adapt
By MaryTherese Griffin, Army Warrior Care and Transition

ARLINGTON, Va.- Being the child of someone in the military isn't easy- I know, I was one. The changes are constant, the pace is fast and the struggles are real. But so are the victories for kids affectionately coined "military brats." Army Sgt. 1st Class Clint Castro retired on Mar. 31, 2019 after 20 years of service. He and his wife Vanessa have three children who are now 14 to 23 years in age. Castro says they handled their roles with gusto. According to the Education Commission of the States (Nov 2016) they were part of the 1.1 million children who experience a move every two to four years because of the military.

"We moved at least eight times. It was tough not only on my kids, but my wife as well. Each time we moved it made us appreciate each other more. The kids learn to adapt." For Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen or Marines there is no "home we grew up in" or "the family home" or even "hometown." Home is where your family is and for the Castro family it was mobile and involved long separation.

"I have to say that after leaving my kids behind many times before, it never got better with frequency, however it made us stronger. They kept busy with after school activities, i.e., sports, music classes, or just hanging with family and friends. They did their best to continue a normal life as if I was still there." After an 18 month deployment to Iraq in 2006 the Castro children now had to endure their father's scars from war which added to the struggle and meant another way to adapt.

Twenty years and eight moves later they are setting down in Kentucky and reflect on their military journey. The life experiences, culture and education they say were priceless. "I believe they handled military life as best they could. They are older now and share with Vanessa and me their good and bad times; how they relied on family and friends to help them get through bumpy roads. What was hard for them? I think it was hard leaving the new friends we made along the way, but as my youngest child would say, dad, we have the internet so we're not going to be that far away," laughs Castro.

Besides relying on the internet to adapt, the Castro family is thankful to have support through the Army Wounded Warrior Program. Castro says they are trying to establish a new normal now with AW2 advocate Joyce Hamilton who worked with the family before, during and after his retirement. "Joyce has not let off the gas pedal in her commitment in taking care of her fellow Soldiers! She even reaches out to my wife directly to ask how she and the kids are doing and offers even more assistance where needed. AW2 is truly an unsung hero," added Castro.

From advocates to teachers, to volunteers on post and in the community the Castro kids are well rounded, well-adjusted and ready for life. The Castro's oldest, 23 year old Victoria is in the Air Force and currently deployed while college is on the horizon for the younger two. They feel blessed to have raised their children during military service. Retired Sgt. 1st Class Castro offers this advice to new Soldiers and their wives.

"To the new service member I suggest that you involve your spouse as best you can, remember you're not the only one serving...your family is as well. Never give off vibes that family input has no bearing in your military career...listen to them and provide them with the many services the Army has to offer spouses and kids. Just know, you are not alone, many families have been through whatever you think may be a hurdle, but believe me the Army has programs that can assist or point you to the right direction."