As a kid, I always found it weird when adults talked to me about being a military child and how brave I was. I would laugh‑politely in my head‑thinking I’m not doing anything brave. My father flew helicopters into actual wartime battles, rescuing the wounded and killed service members, while I sat on-post back home playing with my friends. As I grew older, my understanding grew as well. They weren’t comparing me to the heroism of my father but rather a different type of bravery. The bravery to walk into a new school, in a new state, and be introduced to your class as a new student.
Often, we would move every two years, and those moves never seemed to coincide with the regular school calendar. This made my sister and I feel even more like outsiders. If these students hadn’t known each other prior to the school year, surely four months into the new year they came to know each other well. Trying to fit into an already formed group of friends was like trying to push two opposing sides of a magnet together.
Aside from always being the “new kid”, we had to don the courage of saying goodbye. Within two years you can quickly become attached to your new environment. You learn to love your new room, your friends, your playground, your school, and even just the simple things like your routine. When moving,you have to schedule all your goodbyes while packing all your belongings. Sometimes it was easier not to say goodbye.
I found that each move changed my sister and I a little more. She would draw out her goodbyes, seeming to live in a state of grief, while I took the avoidance route. I would seclude myself, trying to focus on things I could control.
I focused on the thought of one day having a puppy of my own. This way, when I moved again, I wasn’t starting over, I would have a friend that had been with me. A friend that knew when I was sad even before I did. A friend that felt the stress of the move and deployments just like I did.
Now my sister and I are grown, with military children of our own. You would think that our experiences would make us better at preparing our children for the bravery that they must obtain, but it doesn’t.
Just as every move is different, so too is every military child. Our Soldiers courageously walk into the face of danger, and while our military children sit back on the home front and play on the playground, or make new friends.
May we always keep in mind the invisible burden they too carry, even before they are old enough to understand the bravery that they exude.