Purple Up- Military Children

When I was growing up, I had to walk to school two miles, barefoot in the snow.   No, just kidding.  Fair warning: this is a “when I was growing up” story though.

When I was growing up in the 80’s/90’s there was no focus on the Military child or even the Military family. Soldiers were recognized for their bravery and sacrifice, maybe not as much as they are today, but they were recognized.

Over the past 14 years, the Global War on Terror (GWOT) has changed the tempo and duration of deployments.  It’s not unusual for Soldiers to have 24 out of 28 months of deployment.  This puts a toll on all of the family, but can be especially hard on children.

Young children might not remember their deployed parent.  Re-integration can definitely be difficult if your baby/ toddler has no memory of you and shrieks  whenever you come near them.

School age (grades K-5) kids might start showing signs of anxiety, as they don’t quite grasp the concept of deployments. The 3rd, 4th and 5th graders of this group might here stories from other friends or the media of the horrors of war and not know how to process them. “Is Mommy/Daddy going to die?” might become their main focus.

Middle school kids (grades 6-8) might start to challenge authority.  They might not want to listen to the parent at home, or try to get away with more.  When the deployed parent returns. they might not want to listen to them or argue “that’s not how we do it when you’re not here.”

High school kids usually challenge authority, but might also be struggling with their own thoughts, feelings and values about war.  They might be considering joining the Military themselves.  They might be hearing anti-war messages from teacher or friends and feel confused.

In the midst of all this, one or more parents are deploying and re-integrating.  Kids are being shuffled from either a single parent household or a relative’s house, not having the full support of two parents.  The spouse at home is also stressed with their new found “single parent” life.  Even the Military spouse that’s weathered many deployments know the stressors that come with deployment and re-integration and work their hardest to make it easier on the kids and the deployed spouse.

Remember Military children this month and always. And remember those grown up Military children too.

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