'Military children are so resilient'

Base Info
Military children march proudly through Sagamihara Housing Area in Japan during a Month of Military Children parade April 1.  Photo by Tetsuo Nakahara, Stripes Kanto
Military children march proudly through Sagamihara Housing Area in Japan during a Month of Military Children parade April 1. Photo by Tetsuo Nakahara, Stripes Kanto

'Military children are so resilient'

by: Compiled by Tetsuo Nakahara and Takahiro Takiguchi | .
Stripes Kanto | .
published: April 16, 2013

In celebration of Month of the Military Child, Stripes Kanto has been running stories, poems and drawings throughout April from the resourceful group of kids in our community. But what are the challenges and advantages of raising children in a military environment?  Take a look to see what parents and other adults in the community have to say.

“The biggest thing about military children is that they are so resilient. The bounce back (after going) through deployments, having mom or dad who have to leave for months and months at the time … and also being relocated from all their friends and families. I think it makes them very well rounded, being able to simply travel and meet different people and immerse themselves (in) different cultwures”
Turkessa Walker, Sagamihara Housing Area
Child Development Center director


“The pro (of being a military child) is obviously tightness as a family, especially at a small base. However, it’s sometimes tough to explain to my children why their friends are moving. That is one of the challenge we’re facing. To be able to keep friends, and explain to our children, ‘hey, these people are gonna be moving.’  They are getting to the age (5 and 10) to understand. I think sometimes it’s more complicated or they’re a little bit more hesitant to make a commitment for friendship because they know the person is going to be moving.”
Stefan Thompson, civilian director of
Sports Fitness & Aquatics, Camp Zama


“It’s all about the unique opportunities that military life can afford kids, such as exposure to new cultures and learning to respect differences. I think it is awesome to raise children in the military community. I think (the Department of Defense Education Activity school system) is the best for children.  We show our kids that we are ambassadors over here for the U.S.”
Sgt. Jacobie Brydson,
35th Support Battalion Combat Sustainment


Raising kids in the military community is difficult because we move so much. My son is 17 years old and he’s been to five different schools so far. He’s learned lots of different cultures. Because I came into the Army pretty young myself, I try to offer my experiences on how to get along with other people and how to cope with it. He is going to college, and hopefully plays football. He’s spent most of his time in close communities on base, and going back to the States will be a whole different world for him. That is one thing we are afraid of: How he is going to act. But he will be alright.”
Luis Encarnacion, chief of supply and service at Logistics Readiness Center, Camp Zama

“In the military community, you have to be very flexible and more outgoing because you meet new people… wherever you go.  We have moved twice in the past year. Military children have to go through certain things that civilian children don’t have to, with their father or mother leaving all the time. So any event (for Month of Military Child) that recognizes what they go through is cool.” 
Wendi Hurier,
spouse, Sagamihara Housing Area

“My kids grew up in the military community. I think they liked it a lot because both of my kids are in military now and my oldest son has two kids and they are in the military community. (His kids are doing the) same thing he did when he was growing up. One thing I used to ask was if they were missing out on having a longtime friend or (spending time with their cousins) and all that kind of stuff. They turned to me and said: ‘you don’t know what you don’t know.’ All they had was friends they met in the military community. The good thing with technology, they are able to stay in touch with each other with Facebook and the Internet. They liked that they got to live all over the world and meet people from all over the world. (Outside the military) you may have to deal with gangs and all other bad influences, but you don’t have to deal with it in the military community.”
Damon Wilford, director at Directorate of Human Resource, Camp Zama

“It sounds cliche to say that children with parents in the military serve along with them, but there is truth in that. Kids have to deal with so much: like parents going on deployments and possibly going into harm’s way, leaving friends and family to move all over the country and world. All this puts stress on our kids that most American children don’t have to go through.”Before I joined the Navy, I never realized just how demanding this lifestyle can be on kids growing up, but now I see how important it is to make sure, as service members, we take the time to tell our kids how proud we are of them.”
Petty Officer 2nd Class John Smolinski, Commander, Fleet Activities, Yokosuka

“I think the military community sticks together. They do things as a whole community. I think my kids are actually doing better in here than (when they were in the) States. This is first time they are going to a military school. I think the teachers understand my kids a little bit better than private or public schools because they know what my kids are going through. At public schools, they make a big deal about moving, but here they have ways to help them readjust, even if they come in middle of the year. I like to take my kids out and try to immerse them in the culture. Even though we are on a military base, we are in Japan.  So I want them to get the experience of living in another country… I think it’s gonna help them when they get older because they’ll be more accepting of other cultures.”
Candateshia Pafford,
U.S. Army Garrison Japan Public Affairs


“Military kids are some of the most resilient kids you’ll ever know.  In some cases, they face the challenges of being the “man or woman” of the house while their parents are TDY.  In other case, like mine, some children have to wait to be seen or held by their father, due to a deployment.  Alternatively, there are some benefits as well.  Military kids who experience cases like these quickly learn how to be responsible youngsters and how to value their time together with their parent.  Of course, being reunited after a long absence is certainly a benefit as well.”
Master Sgt. Brian Norton,
First Sergeant, Stars and Stripes

“I think what makes military children special is they get to see different states, cultures, and they have the ability to adapt to different surrounding. … Their parent put their lives on the line not just for them but the country as a whole. They have a lot to deal with especially separation, I think it makes them strong and smart.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Jessica Lenson, Yokosuka Naval Base

“I think being a child of a military member creates a kind of resiliency that most people do not develop until much later in life – if at all. … They have a unique opportunity that many other children do not.”
Petty Officer 2nd Class Sarita Whitacre, COMFLEACT Yokosuka
 

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