Monday, May 28, 2012

Living the Military Life

Happy Memorial Day! Today’s a day on which many people will be grilling, going to the beach. Relaxing. It’s the unofficial beginning of summer. And hopefully a day on which Americans will pay their respects to the many men and women who have lost their lives while serving in the armed forces.

And since it’s Memorial Day, I decided to pay a little homage to the young, brave, and unsung heroes of the military—kids living the military life. After all, there are an estimated 1.9 million American children of military families. And since I live in a military town and teach students whose parent(s) are military, I thought I’d get some insight into the military life, the benefits, the hardships. And just how proud these kids are of their military families.

Oh, the places they’ve been…

Ohio, Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, Connecticut, California, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Texas, Okinawa. Some have experienced eight different moves. One of my military brats has been to twenty different states. And she’s only sixteen.

The pros and cons of moving around/living in different places?

Pros: Meeting new people, seeing the world, trying new things, creating unforgettable memories, learning to adapt to my environment, learning about different cultures and experiencing different lifestyles.

The experiences you get are a one in a lifetime chance. I thought trying different foods in Japan and learning the language was interesting. But since we were there, we took advantage of it and went to China.

Cons: having to move unexpectedly, having to make new friends, leaving comfort zone, family being a twenty-hour plane ride away.

The worst part is that when I do move, I leave all my old friends, which were so great, and go to a new place.

Have they had to leave any close friends/girlfriends/boyfriends behind? Do they still keep in touch with them?

Yes, through phone calls and emails.

My boyfriend is in Italy, but we are still together because we are close.

Skype and facebook helps us keep in touch.

Yes, I had to leave my very close friend and break up with my boyfriend of seven months. I do keep in touch with them because we’re so good of friends.

Yes, I met my best friend in Okinawa and we are much alike and we became practically sisters. We skype when we can.

Are any of their parents deployed right now? And how's that been for them? Crazy? Scary?

No, but my dad does deploy every other year and it’s very emotional. But I knew he would always come home. And picking him up at the squadron when he came home made me want to cry.

When my dad is deployed, my mom tries to keep us doing active things so it helps, especially when I was little.

It’s scary because we want him to be safe.

Do they feel more or less patriotic because one of their family members serves in the armed forces?

I feel more patriotic because being in the navy gives you a sense of being proud and honorable to your country.

More…you cherish the lives people sacrifice more, and you understand a lot what goes on in the wars more than other people.

I feel more patriotic because I am closer to the issues and I have a better insight on the issues.

I definitely think when you grow up as a military child, you have a little more respect and understand better than others. Like during the moment of silence, when people are rude, I get upset because you should give respect during that time.

As for wanting to go into the military themselves?

The results on this question were split—some said no, because it’s not for them, others said yes, because they want to serve their country too.

I want to go into the Navy. I always wanted to be a doctor so why not join the military where you can travel, get benefits, and know that you help someone every day.

Some final thoughts from real teens from real military families

My dad being in the Marine Corps is such an honorable job, but calling it a job would be a mistake because he loves being a Marine.

I’m very proud of my dad with what he’s done and been through.

We are all such supporters of the USMC, we decorate a tree at Christmas with red and gold Marine ornaments.

More people bash my father than thank him, but he will still tell you that he is proud of what he does. My daddy is truly my hero.

Cue heartfelt awwww.

Deployments are stressful, moving is tough, but over the years I’ve also observed an incredible resilience and adaptability in many of these teens as well as exceptional pride in their military parent and in their family. So, today, I not only want to thank and honor the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect our freedom, but also thank their families. We, at YA Confidential, salute you.

You can find more military teens sharing their stories here and here. And here.


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