Ft. George G. Meade, MD –
Each year, during the month of April, the Department of Defense joins national, state and local government, schools, military serving organizations, companies and private citizens in celebrating military children and the sacrifices they make.
While military members serve around the world and often around the clock, we often forget the challenges faced by their children. Military families move on average every two to three years, impacting military children through changing schools and support networks.
"Taking Care of Our Military Children" is the theme of this year's Month of the Military Child campaign, an opportunity to focus on the lives of military children, youth and teens.
“It is a lifestyle that can be challenging for the children,” said Elizabeth, an elementary school teacher and spouse of a former Army Sgt. 1st class. “My husband deployed four times and it’s never easy for the kids to be away from a parent. The first two were the worst just because of the technology restrictions. Once it was easier to video chat, that made it better for everyone.”
Despite these challenges, military children are an important part of our military and civilian communities. They provide support and stability to their parents and siblings, and they often become leaders within their peer groups. They learn to be self-reliant and independent—skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.
But it is not just children that have to learn to navigate these difficulties. The parents also must adapt to the stresses of military service in a way that works for them and their children.
“Time is limited, even outside of deployment,” said Air Force Maj. Paul E. Heins, commander’s engagement officer and former deputy battle captain, Joint Operations Center, U.S. Cyber Command. “When your day revolves around work, you learn to appreciate and balance the time where you are not focused on your profession. You learn to balance time for yourself and those who are most important to you.”
This challenge can be very different for the military member and their non-military spouse.
“As a spouse I would say the hardest challenges would be the transition when you first leave and the transition when you come home,” said Kathleen Heins, Heins wife. “When you first leave you take on the battle of filling the roles of both parents. This becomes easier as the weeks go on as you establish a routine. Once you return there is a flood of emotions of excitement and joy, but there is also an adjustment as the routine is now changing again, things that once flowed smoothly with only one parent now shift as there are more needs to attend to.”
Right now, there are roughly 1.7 million dependent military children across all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. About 1 million of these children are children of active duty servicemembers. The remaining 700,000 dependent military children are children of guard or reserve units. Over 650,000 of these military children are ages 5 or under.
"For CYBERCOM, it all starts with our people," said Maj. Gen. Bradley Pyburn, chief of staff, CYBERCOM. "Having our military and civilian personnel at their best starts with a strong support system at home. Our command family isn't just within the command walls; it's bigger than that. Our families at home play a key role in supporting our cyber operators and staff so they can succeed in their duties.
For more information, visit https://www.defense.gov/Spotlights/Month-of-the-Military-Child/