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Growing up as a Military Child
Sgt. Dustin Gautney 2HBCT Public Affairs - photo by Courtesy Photo

Fort Stewart, GA.


So this month is the official Month of the Military Child. But what does this mean for me? I’m a single Soldier with no children. I started to think about what this meant to me and it finally donned on me… I am a military child.

Like many of us currently in the service, we followed the footsteps of our parents before us. Many of the Soldiers around you are second, third, even fourth generation service members. But how can that experience transcend to the current military child?

For me, my father retired from the United States Marine Corps while I was still young. I just remember faint images of him in uniform and often having to stay at work for long periods at a time. While I understand now, that he was often in the field or staying late for training, at the time I was really unsure what my father actually did. Luckily for me, this was the 1980’s and was still a relatively quiet time for service members.

Currently, Soldiers deploy nearly once every other year. I could only imagine the impact that this experience has on children with one or both parents possibly gone for a year or so. I know I did not understand why my dad was gone sometimes for a month or so, but if at the time I had a greater understanding of what my father did, I think I would have been more prepared for each time he had to leave.

For the current military child, I think it is essential they have an understanding of what their parent(s) do, and what it means to deploy in service of our country. While they might not grasp at a young age the full meaning of what it means to serve in the Military; after a few years they will have a greater appreciation for the men and women who serve.

But what makes a military Child different? I often remember moving a lot as a kid, always to a new town and having to find new friends. I wasn’t ever happy about having to move, but I think later in my life it has given me the social tools to quickly establish relationships in new situations.

But what would I do differently if I had a child? I can fully admit my father was not perfect. However, I wish he would have talked to me more about what his work was when I was young. It was not until I expressed interest in serving many years later that he opened up to me about his experiences in the service. Maybe at that point he felt I was a kindred spirit. But, I do wish he would have opened up to me when I was young. For me this is what I would want my child to see; let them see a tank up close, take them to unit functions, and teach them what it is to serve your country.

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