Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Military Kids: Flexible And Well-Adjusted, Except When They're Not
Maybe you’ve been at your new duty station for several months or your spouse has been deployed for a while. You have followed all the suggestions friends and experts have given you:
Do your research. Make it into an adventure for the kids. Keep a positive attitude. Make the kids feel comfortable by decorating with familiar things.Take care of school registrations remotely and as soon as possible. Get them involved in familiar extracurricular activities. Keep the communication open with your deployed partner. Keep a journal and encourage your kids to do the same. Think of creative ways to help the kids make new connections.
You’ve done all this, yet you are dreading the question that a family member or well-meaning friend will inevitably ask: “So, how are the kids adjusting?”
Why? Because it’s less about the question and more about what your response will be.
You desperately want to be able to say, “The kids are great — they have jumped right in and are adjusting better than we are!” After all, military kids are flexible and well-adjusted. This sentiment is grounded in truth and has been perpetuated by the military community in an effort to praise and honor kids as they navigate the complex waters of the life they have been given. There have been poems, articles, and even books written about military kids. Artwork has been created; awards have been presented. Every April, we celebrate the resiliency of the military child. It is true that these miniature people, who rise to every challenge that they encounter, are absolutely amazing. But, as a parent you need to know, and more importantly let your child know, that sometimes it will be hard. You will both feel overwhelmed, and nobody will feel resilient or strong.
Guess what? These feelings and experiences are normal.
The raw, real-life truth is that one or more of your children may be experiencing significant challenges as they try to adjust. Of course, you will be worried about this. They will miss their friends. They will feel awkward in their new schools. That photography club that one of them loved so much at the last station may not exist in your new area. The love of your son or daughter’s life may now live in another state or country. Your spouse may be deployed or traveling. You, as the full-time caregiver may be stressed about handling everything alone. Doors will be slammed. “I hate you” will be muttered more than once and grades might suffer.
As the mother of four children, who has experienced over 10 permanent change of station moves and countless separations during my husband’s military career, I can tell you this. Sometimes kids are just not okay. It’s not about you, and what you did or didn’t do. I think this can be summed up in the words of my daughter who will be leaving her friends again, “ Sometimes I have a hard time living up to the military child stereotype. I want to jump up and down and scream — I’m not okay! Then I feel bad about feeling that way, as if I’m some how dishonoring dad’s service.”
According to information analyzed and compiled by S. Beth Ruff and Michael A. Keim in their article for The Professional Counselor, there are over 1.2 million military children in the U.S. who often experience multiple stressors as a result of the unique military culture, while simultaneously handling the usual developmental and emotional stress that comes from just being a kid. However, as parents, we somehow tend to believe that this happens to other people’s children, not our own.
There is no shame in telling grandma that the kids need a bit more time to adjust or telling that well-meaning new friend that little Johnny hates his new school. Chances are, his or her little Suzy has experienced the same thing. Kids are kids, military or not. Change is hard. Even if they are not okay right now, they will be. Sometimes all you can do is be patient, provide a shoulder to cry on, point them in the right direction or even seek out resources and services, like those listed on Military Kids Connect, to help them get to where they need to be. It’s important to acknowledge that this is a process with ups and downs and you that don’t always have to have it all together.
Yes, military kids are amazing. Yes, they rise to every challenge. They are smart, well-rounded, and have been lucky enough to experience different people, places, and cultures. They have a certain sense of pride due to their affiliation with the armed forces.
As a members of the military community and as an American culture, we need to take a step back and make sure that in our enthusiasm to praise, we have not set the bar so high that military children and parents who are going through hard times do not feel that they need to appear to be strong when they’re not. We can do that by sharing our experiences, paying attention, and reaching out to those we see struggling. If you are a military child or parent going through a rough patch, please hear this: You are not alone, you can and should be reaching out to others for support.
A big stereotype surrounding U.S. service members and veterans is that they are defined only by their military service, from buying "Dysfunctional Veteran" t-shirts to playing hard-boiled, high-octane first-person shooters like Battlefield and Call of Duty (we honestly have no idea where anyone could get that impression).
But the folks at OSD (formerly called Operation Supply Drop), a non-profit veteran service organization that aims to help troops and vets connect with each other through free video games, service programs and other activities, recently found that most of the gamers they've served actually prefer less military-centric fare like sports games and fantasy RPGs.
A new documentary series about Clint Lorance pits the infantry officer convicted of murder against his former soldiers
The fog of war, just kills, and war crimes are the focus of a new documentary series coming to STARZ. Titled Leavenworth, the six-part series profiles 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, the Army infantry officer who was convicted on murder charges for ordering his soldiers to fire on three unarmed Afghan men on a motorcycle, killing two and wounding the third, while deployed to the Zhari district in Kandahar province, on July 2, 2012.
A Vietnam vet found covered in ant bites is forcing the Atlanta VA to finally reckon with years of dangerous practices
Dawn Brys got an early taste of the crisis unfolding at the largest Veterans Affairs hospital in the Southeast.
The Air Force vet said she went to the Atlanta VA Medical Center in Decatur last year for surgery on a broken foot. But the doctor called it off because the surgical instruments hadn't been properly sterilized.
"The tools had condensation on them," recalled Brys, a 50-year-old Marietta resident. The doctor rescheduled it for the next day.
Now the 400-plus-bed hospital on Clairmont Road that serves about 120,000 military veterans is in a state of emergency. It suspended routine surgeries in late September after a string of incidents that exposed mismanagement and dangerous practices. It hopes to resume normal operations by early November as it struggles to retrain staff and hire new nurses.
The partial shutdown came about two weeks after Joel Marrable, a cancer patient in the same VA complex, was found covered with more than 100 ant bites by his daughter. Also in September, the hospital's canteen was temporarily closed for a pest investigation.
The mounting problems triggered a leadership shakeup Sept. 17, when regional director Leslie Wiggins was put on administrative leave. Dr. Arjay K. Dhawan, the regional medical director, was moved to administrative duties pending an investigation. Seven staff members were reassigned to non-patient care.
The only question for some military veterans and staff is why the VA waited so long. They say problems existed for years under Wiggins' leadership, but little was done.
The former Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs thinks that the VA needs to start researching medical marijuana. Not in a bit. Not soon. Right goddamn now.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's withholding of $391 million in military aid to Ukraine was linked to his request that the Ukrainians look into a claim — debunked as a conspiracy theory — about the 2016 U.S. election, a senior presidential aide said on Thursday, the first time the White House acknowledged such a connection.
Trump and administration officials had denied for weeks that they had demanded a "quid pro quo" - a Latin phrase meaning a favor for a favor - for delivering the U.S. aid, a key part of a controversy that has triggered an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives against the Republican president.
But Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff, acknowledged in a briefing with reporters that the U.S. aid — already approved by Congress — was held up partly over Trump's concerns about a Democratic National Committee (DNC) computer server alleged to be in Ukraine.
"I have news for everybody: Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy," Mulvaney said.