Contributed by Erica Glass, Air Force Veteran & Blue Star Families Volunteer
There are currently more than 1.8 million military children in the U.S. – more than 1.1 million of those have at least one active duty parent, according to the Department of Defense. It’s important to remember during April, the Month of the Military Child, that kids serve too.
According to the education division at Department of Defense, the average child in a military family will move six to nine times through the course of their pre-college education. That’s six to nine times they have to start over making friends, getting to know teachers, learning about their neighborhoods like (local neighborhoods near schools). Most often, these military kids get along with just one parent while the other is deployed, for extended periods of time. They navigate homework, holidays and all of life’s childhood ups and downs sometimes with only their mom or their dad to help out. Add to that the stress and worry of a deployed parent, and it’s easy to see how these kids are asked to take on a lot more than their civilian counterparts.
In our recent Blue Star Family 2017 Survey, both members of the military and their spouses rated education and the impact of deployments among their top five concerns. It’s a growing concern among military parents.
As civilian members of a community populated with military kids, it’s important we reach out. As parents, we can support service members of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Fort Wainwright, Eielson AFB, Fairbanks, Juneau, Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley by inviting military parents into our networks at church or at school. Invite military kids to play with yours or better yet, encourage your own kids to include them. Create opportunities for local military kids to talk about their service and that of their families.
Happy, healthy military children will take some of the stress off their parents and in turn strengthen the force – not just today, but in the future. According to a 2013 Pentagon Report, more than half of today’s military come from a military family, which indicates today’s military children are tomorrow’s sailors, marines, airmen and soldiers.
All of us at Blue Star Families encourage our neighbors to reach out. Please visit www.bluestarfams.org and learn about our Blue Star communities.