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Help Us Recognize and Support Military Children 

Military Children

Right now, there are over 1.6 million military children. While we often acknowledge the sacrifices made by military members and their spouses, it’s important to also recognize the unique challenges faced by their children. These kids didn’t choose the military life, the military life was chosen for them. 

One of the most challenging aspects of life for military children is the frequent moves they experience with every PCS (permanent change of station). On average, military families move every two to three years, and each move brings new difficulties as they must say goodbye to friends, adapt to new schools, and adjust to new environments such as a different city, different state, or even different country.  

Moreover, deployment of parents adds an additional layer of stress. This separation can be particularly emotionally challenging as deployments are lengthy separations and there can often be an underlying fear of losing a parent in the line of duty. 

But despite this unique lifestyle, military children show incredible resilience. They navigate through military life and emerge stronger because of it. 

So how can we support these resilient young military children?

Start by acknowledging their experience

You may not be able to solve the issue, but validating their feelings and recognizing their experiences can go a long way towards showing them your support.

Create stability whenever and wherever possible

Try to maintain routines even throughout difficult moves and situations. Familiar routines can help to counterbalance the instability of military life.

Help maintain important connections

Find ways to allow military kids to stay better connected to loved ones. Schedule recurring video chats, help them write letters and allow them to connect online (with proper supervision, of course). Show them that long distance communication can still be a meaningful way to maintain connections with friends and family.

Find them new support networks

When arriving at a new duty station, help them connect with other military children and families. These new connections can even be beneficial to you as well!

Celebrate their milestones

Be sure to celebrate their successes and milestones, no matter how small. This will help them to feel appreciated and recognized in the household.  

But don’t just take this advice from me! At Service Credit Union, we benefit from unique insights into military life because many on our staff are either former military personnel or grew up in military families themselves. Here are some of their perspectives:

Mike Flint 

Branch Manager, Ramstein, Germany 

I grew up in a military family and have never known anything otherwise. My experience/words of wisdom are that growing up in a military family is a hard journey of discovering that home is not a physical location, but a community of people. 

Mike Flint

Chris Hooper 

Branch Manager, Kaiserslautern, Germany

While moving around frequently inherently has its cons, not many people get to say they lived and went to school in a foreign country. I remember hating our move to Germany as a teenager. Now, 20 years later, I consider it one of the best things to have ever happened to me! #Militarybrat

Chris Hooper

Shannon Mora 

Marketing Field Representative, Sembach, Germany

Moving every few years prepared me to be resilient and overcome most of life’s challenges.

Shannon Mora

Kiersten Custer 

Branch Manager, Ramstein, Germany

I was born into the Air Force and was an Air Force brat until I was 21 years old, when my dad retired. My experience was unique in that I had the privilege to stay in one place most of my life. I was also born and raised overseas, so I really got some unique experiences! Sometimes it was like I was on the outside looking in, watching all my friends and the people I was close to move away. Being a military brat made me appreciate the small things so much more and helped me adapt to ever-changing circumstances. I’m so very grateful for the life I had growing up as a military brat, and my advice to anyone would be to always have an open mind and enjoy the ride.

Kiersten Custer

Alyssa Ellis 

Branch Manager, Hohenfels, Germany 

Don’t forget to validate your child’s feelings as a military child. As adults we have the perspective to know that this lifestyle will do good things for them: Make them more adaptable. Make them good at talking to people and making friends. Make them versatile, resilient, well-rounded, all these things. It did all of those things for me, and with hindsight I am grateful. But in the moment, as a child, none of that is reassuring while things are hard. When they’re sad, they’re leaving their friends – again. When they’re feeling scared sleeping in yet another new room. When normalcy and consistency are stripped away.   

My parents, trying their best, would often try to force positivity. “Imagine the new friends you’ll make! How do you want to decorate your new room?” It made me feel like I wasn’t allowed to feel bad. But that sadness, that fear, all those “negative” emotions are valid and real. Sometimes what helps most is giving them a hug and telling them it’s okay to be sad. Give them the space to feel and work through their emotions. That, more than anything else, will make them strong.