April is the month of the military child. We all commend the parents of a military child and some even look at their lives and think how exciting. You are right, a military child is fortunate; they live in a lot of wonderful places. They have adventures in their young lives that most adults will never experience.
My child is a military child. She has 33 stamps in her passport. She is a bit uncommon. Not because of the number of stamps in her passport but because she has only lived in 2 places during her 7 years. Two places! And this summer we are moving back to where she has spent the first four years of her life. She has a BFF and they will resume their friendship. She has friends that she looks forward to living near again. She knows adults that will take care of her. She had never had to stay with a stranger when her parents were unpacking or live with her grandparents because mom and dad were deployed at the same time. She has never been told that she cannot have cereal because it was not on the WIC list or we cannot afford this because it was not the 1st or the 15th. She is the exception to some military families.
Did you know the average military family moves every three years? If you are an Officer in the military, you could move every two years during the latter part of your career. Could you imagine moving your child to a school every two to three years? Or, in some cases, more?
Did you know that a military member deploys about every 24 months. Yes, the moms and dads of the military leave their child for an average of seven months every two years.
Did you know that every military person puts in 50 to 70 hours a week and some military families are recipients of Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Military people don’t make a lot of money but they proudly serve they country every day. There are times when they cannot pay their bills. It is not because of expensive cars or credit card debit but because money just does not stretch that far especially if you live in a foreign country.
So, the next time you see a military family and they cannot afford a toy or one that looks a little reserved, offer to help.
Yesterday I went to the commissary (military grocery store), there was a mother paying for her food. She needed $17.00. She tried 4 different cards, they all declined. She was young. Three children in tow. She started to cry. I cannot afford all of this. I felt so bad.
I said. “Yes, you can.” I swiped my card. As we walked out, she thanked me and asked for my address. I refused. I told her to pay it forward if she can afford to in the future.
Can you imagine not being able to afford $17 worth of groceries and your spouse works up to 70 hours a week while you or your spouse dodge bullets for your country, and you love the job you have.
Military Children experience
- Poor friendships. They are rarely around long enough in one place to make a quality friends.
- Financial poverty. It is expensive to move every three years. (Yes, you do get some compensation but we all know that it takes a little time to recover from a move.)
- Parents who live for up to a year at a time outside of the home. Can you imagine being a single parent for a year?
- Bullying because you are always the new kid.
So the next time you see a military child, say thank you. Mom and Dad serve but they may serve in the worst way. Don’t look at them with pity. They are proud little troopers. Just accept them and extend a friendship through a play date. It makes all the difference. And the next time you see a military mom at the cashier that needs a helping hand, help them. As a military family, we all have to serve. And sometimes our service is a lifetime when mom and dads go away and don’t return because they gave their lives to protect our freedom.
To all the Military Children out there, we want to say thank you for your service to our country as well.