FORT BENNING, GA – April is the Month of the Military Child. More than 1.6 million children of active duty, National Guard, Reserve and veterans did not choose to put on the uniform, but they serve nonetheless. Martin Army Community Hospital (BMACH) thanked our littlest heroes by having some of the youngest family members refresh the terrace garden with some new purple flowers.
BMACH’s Department of Pediatrics kicked off the month-long celebration by handing out packets of spring flower seeds on April 14, Department of Defense Education Activity’s (DoDEA) “Purple Up Day.” Purple symbolizes “joint” and means all branches of the military … Army, Air Force, Marine and Navy … are supported.
“The motto is military children are ’brave enough to bloom wherever we land,’” said Pediatrician Maj. Jessica Aguilar. “So that was the idea behind the packs of flower seeds they could plant and watch bloom. We handed them out for ‘Purple Up’ day on April 14.”
Like the dandelion, military children overcome the challenges of frequent deployments, separations and moves, to put down roots almost anywhere. Military families pcs on average every two to three years. Change is the only constant in their lives. This unique lifestyle calls for great sacrifice, but also instills military children with character, adaptability and a world view seldom seen in their civilian counterparts.
“Let’s see, we were in Alaska twice, [Fort] Riley, Indianapolis, Fort Drum, and then here,” counted off mother of four LaToya Olszak. “My first two are Kansas babies. And then the other two are Indianapolis.
“I’m a military brat, my dad is retired Air Force,” continued Olszak. “The adjustment after every move is entertaining. It’s always an adventure. They are very resilient. I think they take it for what it is. It’s a new adventure.”
All that uncertainty and upheaval were forgotten on the last day of April as nearly two dozen children and their parents basked in the late afternoon sun and delighted in purple treats, purple balloons and planting purple flowers.
Seven-year-old Beth White helped plant flowers, along with her older brother Adam. Their family has been stationed at Fort Benning, in North Carolina, at Fort Irwin, Quantico, in Hawaii and back here at Benning.
“When we moved here, a lot of kids came over and they asked us if we wanted to play because we were the new kids,” recalled the 1st grader at Stowers Elementary. “And we said yes, and so we went to go play until 8 because that was our bedtime.”
Eight-year-old Adam added, “I have a lot of friends. At Stowers, I have like 200.”
“I don’t like moving,” said 9-year-old Zimiah Olszak. “But the best part of moving are the movies in the car. And it takes a couple of days to make friends when you move.”
“We like moving around a lot,” countered her little brother Azaiah (AJ).