I’ve heard it said that no one understands the sacrifices of the military lifestyle more intimately than the children of a soldier. I tend to agree.
I’ve had the privilege of getting to know the four daughters of Staff Sgt. Nick Lanier and his wife, Catherine, since coming to Fort Stewart, and these girls are very familiar with all of the ups and downs.
“It has its good and its bad,” said Hannah, 12, the oldest of the four.
Nick joined the Army when she was 16 months old.
Hannah has a take-charge personality and a generous heart. She and her sisters agree on the hardest part of being the child of a soldier: “Definitely having him go away.”
The girls have their own ways of coping with deployments and other separations.
“I like to write my feelings down in my journal,” Hannah said.
Sophia, 10, is the next oldest. She said her friends help her through deployments.
Sophia’s dry wit and sarcasm were inherited from her father, despite their time apart. She boldly announced her feelings toward having a parent in the military.
“I don’t like it,” she said.
She couldn’t think of good part.
Her younger sister, who seems to have an endless supply of energy and optimism, says there is a bright side.
“I think it’s cool that we get to move to a bunch of different places,” Juliette, 8.
Her way of dealing with deployment was refreshing: “Praying to God and, like, asking him to keep us safe and stuff.”
Of course, like the other girls, Juliette misses her dad when he’s away. All of the girls agreed that it was the everyday things that they miss.
“I just miss helping him cook dinner,” Juliette said. “I like helping him with that.”
Hannah and Sophia said they mostly miss being able to talk with him whenever they want.
“Just hanging out with him and talking about things. Talking to him, is kind of what I miss,” Hannah said.
Evelyn, 4, is the youngest. She stayed pretty quiet as I talked with her sisters, snuggled under Juliette’s arm and sometimes nodding along with her older sisters.
Catherine, the girls’ mom, said she and Nick tallied up the time he’s spent away, and between two deployments, 15 months unaccompanied in Korea and other separations, it’s been a total of five years. That’s five of the 11 years he’s been in the military.
Of course, there are privileges the girls can’t understand, things they will understand when they’re grown. They don’t know that some civilian children go hungry or without medical treatment. They do know civilian parents don’t go away as much.
They don’t know that children their ages often have never been anywhere outside of their home state, while they talk about places they’ve lived across the country. But they do know the pain of separation. And they certainly do understand the cost of our freedom.
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