ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE – During April, Andersen families celebrate the Month of the Military Child with activities planned in conjunction with the Department of Defense Education Activity schools and Child Development Center.
With frequent deployments, temporary duty assignments, permanent change of stations and extended work hours, children in military families are often left dealing with loneliness, stress, abandonment and other emotions many adults may not realize. This month aims to raise awareness and honor the dedication and sacrifices kids make on a daily basis in support of their parents’ service.
Throughout the month, children and adults celebrated with a dedicated parade and carnival and wore the color purple to signify the support of all military branches.
“We are so excited and eager to spread awareness to families and remind people how truly important our young ones are,” said Lydia Broussard, Andersen AFB and Naval Base Guam school liaison officer. “While it may not be obvious, they truly are affected and they feel the pressures of being a military child.”
Military children are known to constantly change locations due to their parent(s) military obligations. According to National Board for Certified Counselors and Affiliates, military children move and change schools an average of six to nine times from the start of kindergarten to high school graduation. Parents are encouraged to inform their children of the many sacrifices they may have to make when preparing to move.
“Throughout my career my kids have had to change schools five times,” said Tech. Sgt. Paul Thompson, 36th Civil Engineer Squadron electrical systems craftsman. “One thing I tell my kids with each move is to keep an open mind and don’t lose contact with the friends they’ve made throughout the years. I know it’s hard on them, but I make sure they know the importance behind the job and how great team players they are.”
When dealing with children, informing them of situations such as possible deployments can relieve them of unnecessary stress, Broussard said.
“Communication is key, you want to talk to your children and tell them how great they are doing. Involve yourself with their education, go to their schools, make sure you are involved in all parts of their lives,”
Broussard said. “It is so important to keep that line of communication open. Explain to your kids your role in the military; let them know that they play a role in what you do every day.”
Support for military families include the child development center program, offering child care for children up to 12 years; the youth center program, which offers recreational opportunities; and also Military One Source, and online and telephone help service that is is available 24/7 and offers help learning new parenting skills as well as other support options.
“For parents that may need the extra support, I encourage them to reach out to the many outlets that are available,” Broussard said. “There are so many people here to help you all you have to do is reach out.”