By Amanda Huffman
Contributing Writer

There is often a legacy of service between generations. In the past, it was very common for military kids to follow the footsteps of their parents if either one of them served in the military. In a way, military culture has been ingrained into who these military kids are and serving can be an easy next step when they consider their future. 

On my podcast, Women of the Military, and in my work, I have had the chance to interview several f military kids (affectionately known as military brats), who have also served in the military. There are so many different stories of what leads someone to join the military in general, and it is the same with military kids.

When I interviewed retired Major General Gregg Martin about why he joined the U.S. Army, he talked about how everyone in his family joined the military: It was just a matter of how you were going to do it. Gen. Martin decided to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point to begin his career in the military. Growing up, there was never a doubt in his mind what he was going to do after high school. 

Jessica Roza served in the Army National Guard for eight years and shared how her life was impacted by the military and how she wanted to work for change. She said, “I’m the third generation of my family to serve in the military and I enlisted in the Army National Guard when I was seventeen, as a junior in high school. I chose to pursue a career as an Army paralegal after witnessing the failure of the civilian and military justice systems to protect my military spouse, mother, and family from abuse. I wanted to support military-connected crime victims, not let families fall through the cracks, and be a part of the solution in breaking the cycle of toxic commands.”

Some military kids join because of the benefits the military provides. Their parents, who have served in the military, may have shared with them about the many benefits of service, and especially the education benefits. 

Manmeet Pelia grew up as a military kid, with a father who was enlisted. She said, “Because of [my father], I applied to a service academy.” Manmeet grew up traveling in the military and wanted to continue doing it in her career. She added, “I also have a profound respect for servicemembers because of my dad and can’t think of a better way to give back to this country than serving.” Now she is a 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force.

Melissa Harcrow served in the Army for 12 years. She shared how she didn’t feel like she had any other options and that she knew from her upbringing that the military was a good choice. She said, “Honestly, I had nothing going for me. No money for college and no idea what I wanted to do. No skills either. The recruiter sold me on the money and education benefits I’d make. I continued to serve because I was a single mom by the time reenlistment came up. The Army supported us financially and I was happily working on my degree.”

Some military kids resent the military lifestyle. Military kids face many challenges requiring them to grow and learn things some adults may never learn or experience in their lifetime. 

Cassadee Dinsmore served in the Marine Corps for five years. She shared that her road to the military started with resentment. She said, “For a long time, I resented the Marine Corps for the chaos it caused in my life. But after weighing my options, I joined the service out of desire to be better, to find a sense of purpose, and to have some sort of stability in my life. The Marine Corps gave me the opportunity to feel like I was a part of something bigger than myself — it’s where I felt a sense of belonging for the first time in my life. It provided me with opportunities to learn, grow, and become more than I ever imagined.”

Seeing the transformation from a military child resenting the military to someone who served and finding belonging is really powerful. Military kids are so ingrained in the military life but at the same time they often feel like they don’t belong. 

The path to service is different for everyone. Hearing the stories of military kids, especially the hard challenges they experienced, makes me want to honor military kids even more. Military kids are a special group who experience so much and then so many of them go on to serve in the military that formed their childhood.  

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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