By Amanda Huffman
Contributing Writer

While April, the Month of the Military Child, is an important time to recognize the sacrifices military children make as part of a military family, even if they’re young, they really deserve our understanding and support all year long. While military life is often the only life they have ever known, it doesn’t mean it is easy for them, which is why it helps to talk about those challenges. 

As part of the military community, we know it can be hard to be a military kid. They face a lot of challenges because of their parent’s career. It means saying goodbye, starting over, and likely doing it over again every couple of years. Including kids in official military ceremonies and other programs can help them understand why the work their parents do for the military is so important. Even though these kids are surrounded by military life and see service as a normal part of it, they may not understand its impact. Ceremonies and service activities can not only open their eyes to the importance of military service, but they can also make it easier for kids to understand the challenges everyone experiences in military life. 

Last year, my kids and I volunteered with their local Cub Scout troop to put flags on graves for Memorial Day. A mix of servicemembers and civilians were buried at the cemetery where we volunteered. When we have participated in Wreaths Across America, it has been most often at a military cemetery where every grave gets a wreath because only Veterans are buried there. Since this cemetery had the graves of those who had served and those who had not, I think that was significant for my kids. Because my kids have had both parents serving in the military, it can be easy for them to imagine everyone has served. This outing helped them see that serving in the military is something special.

As a group, the Cub Scouts would walk down the rows looking for graves of Veterans, often marked by the military branch in which the person interred there had served. My husband and I were able to talk to the kids about the different branches and, depending on dates on the headstone, we could often guess when they served. Many graves did not get flags, reminding us how many people do not serve in the military. 

When my husband was promoted a few years ago, my kids attended the ceremony. While having a squirmy baby and a well-behaved two-year-old was challenging, it was important for all of us to be there. This past year, my husband was promoted again. My kids were in school, and we decided to not only take them out of school, but to invite a few of their friends as well. 

Military ceremonies are not always the most fun thing to sit through, especially for children. But it was really special to hear about the work that my husband had done and was being honored for. I am grateful that we decided to include my kids in the ceremony and that some of their civilian friends, who had never seen a military ceremony, got to attend as well. While it isn’t always possible to have kids attend all the ceremonies within a military career, having your children at as many as you can will impact them and allow them to understand military service better. 

Kids don’t have a say in deciding where each new move takes them — the military has the final say on that. But you can involve your kids in planning your move. For example, they could help plan some of the places you visit while driving to a new location. Or, they can help by telling you what is important to them about a new location. 

My kids were really excited to travel across the country when we made that move, and we involved them in helping to plan our road trip from Virginia to California. They added suggestions we wouldn’t have thought of, which made them even more excited for the trip. 

This month, and every April, make a point of celebrating your military kids’ activities, accomplishments, and fortitude. Military kids have to make so many sacrifices and we should recognize them. 

Amanda is a military veteran who served in the Air Force for six years as a Civil Engineer who served on a combat deployment with the Army in Afghanistan. She traded in her combat boots for a diaper bag to stay home with her two boys and follow her husband’s military career in the Space Force. Amanda is the host of the Women of the Military podcast. There she shares the stories of women who have served or are serving in the military. The podcast has over 200 episodes and over 100K downloads. Amanda is also an author and has published two books. Her first book, Women of the Military tells the stories of 28 military women who served in the military. Her second book, A Girl’s Guide to Military Serviceis the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Gold Winner for Teen Non Fiction. It is a guide for high school girls considering military service to help them build a strong foundation for their future career. She also works as a freelance writer and has been featured in a number of military publications including The War, Military Families Magazine, Clearance Jobs, Military Spouse Magazine, and more. 

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