FORT STEWART, Ga. - "Don't think of their being gone as a negative," says Cortney. "They [Soldiers] are there for a good cause, and they will be back really soon. The time will fly by, so in the mean time, go out and have some fun."

Sage advice, from someone only 14-years-old, and three deployment experiences under her belt.

As the Month of the Military Child reaches its mid-way point, Cortney Welch and her 10-year-old brother Dylan, reflect upon what life was like when their father, now retired Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ron Welch, formerly a missile maintenance technician with the 3rd Infantry Division, went off on deployments or military exercises that took him away from home.

"I felt lonely when he was gone," said Dylan. "There was no one to play with."

Though she understands, Cortney felt he missed out on a lot of their sport activities.

For the both of them, the void was filled by maintaining friendships and keeping in touch with Ron, all the while knowing that he would return soon.

Cortney and Dylan are able to now share what were their fears at the time; fears that many military children face when their parents go out on a deployment, to far-away lands where they hear on the news or through conversation the dangers their parents may have to come into contact.

"I was afraid he would be taken as a hostage," said Dylan.

Cortney expressed a fear of her dad getting injured.

Now that Ron is retired, Dylan and Cortney both relish each and every moment they get to spend with him. Though he has his own peers, Dylan is glad to have his dad back around to play basketball, video games, and hunting.

With her intense interest in soccer, Cortney enjoys practicing the sport and going fishing with her dad.

Their hobbies are typical of most children their ages also. Cortney enjoys watching movies and going to the Corkan Family Fun Center on Fort Stewart to skate with friends. And of course the love of the game of soccer, where she is #24 on the State Championship Team, the Hinesville Gators. Ramona Welch, their mother, who is a Directorate of Public Works housing referral assistant, said that Cortney has been playing soccer since she was 2-years-old.

Dylan's hobby is that of collecting shoes, especially those with the Jordan brand. "I like to go to show stores and look at Jordan's; I own four pair now." In addition to basketball interests, he enjoys chatting with friends and playing video games.

They each have individual scholastic interests. "My favorite subject is math, above all the others," said Dylan, who attends Joseph Martin Elementary School. "I seem to get more answers right in that class than any others. Plus math just seems easy to me."

Having a flair towards cultural interests, Cortney enjoys Social Studies at Midway Middle School. "I like reading about the history and culture of other places," she said.

Though their goals are suspected to change before their high school graduation, Dylan is leaning towards following in his dad's footsteps by joining the U.S. Army. Cortney seems to be pretty set on becoming a nurse.

During her husband's absence, Ramona would wear not only the 'hat' of mommy, but also that of teacher and comforter to her children.

"It actually helped me to have children, and focus on their activities, by keeping them busy," said Ramona. "It was important for them not to see me upset or sad over items heard in the news or on the street. In the end, I felt proud, knowing what I could do."

For those single parent households, Ramona wants them to "keep the faith, make plans for the return of their loved one, and start your countdown."

Cortney and Dylan will always share a bond of those in the club of the military child. Many of their friends have a current or prior military connection, and they have noted some of the emotions when their friends' parent has left.

They both want other children to know that it may seem like a long time, but if they stay busy, and keep in touch, before they know it, their parent will be back really soon.