Why Military Children Should Not Have to Move

By Gunner M., Age 10

As a military child I have been forced to move a lot and I will be forced to move this summer to Mississippi. I know what it is like firsthand to always be packing and moving. It is difficult. Being a military child is already incredibly stressful. You are always worried and frustrated about moving. I believe it should be up to the service members and their children to decide if they move and where they move to.

Military kids should not be forced to move as often as we must because they do not get to keep their friends. Losing friends is upsetting and moving every couple of years makes it hard to keep friends. It is unfair because we do not get to hang out with our friends and do not usually see them again because we have moved so far away from each other.

Normally as a military brat you do not stay in contact with your friends, you make it at your parent’s duty station because you are too young to have a phone. Having long term friends as military kid is not possible because you are always on the go.

Another reason military kids should not move is because you are always changing schools. I am ten years old, and I have been to four different elementary schools. It is very scary to have to go to a new school, especially in the middle of a school year. It’s always frightening to go to a new school because you never know if the staff are going to be nice. You are always forced to meet new people and they do not always know what it’s like being a military kid.

Adapting to schools and not always having understanding from the school staff makes a massive impact on military students academically. You do not always get to finish the school year and that really makes it hard because you know you may be leaving a good school and going to another one that is not as good.

Also, another big reason military children should not be forced to move is because you do not have a permanent home. We move every four to five years. That makes it difficult to call somewhere home because you are never somewhere long enough. I was born in Kansas but now live in Texas and soon will be moving to Mississippi.

I have never lived anywhere long enough to call it home. Military children move three times more than their civilian peers. Military children are stressed due to not having a place to call home and always being moved around.

Being a military brat is hard and frustrating. Moving makes it even more difficult because you never feel settled. Having no say is challenging because you never have a choice on where or when you are moving Your never near family and one day, I hope we get stationed closer to my family. Military kids should have a say on whether they move or not because we are affected by moving and what station we end up at. - Gunner M., age 10

How the USO Supports Military Kids like Gunner

According to the Department of Defense, a military child will move six to nine times between kindergarten and high school graduation. This usually means that every two to three years (which is more than three times the national average), military children must pack up their things and move to a new city, new state or even a new country. Here, they will have to once again make new friends, once again learn the route to all their classrooms, once again try to find a sense of home in an unfamiliar place.

This constant change of schools, teachers, friends and learning environments can be a significant stressor for military children and their families, particularly when combined with other realities of military life and normal childhood worries.

One of the biggest challenges of life as a military child is this practice of constantly having to start over, which can lead to feeling unsettled, or a lack of sense of belonging. To counteract those feelings, it is important to maintain some continuity in their life, such as through extracurricular activities, military base celebrations or the consistent involvement of military support organizations like the USO.

Photo credit USO Photo

It can be challenging for military children to move every two to three years, leaving behind their friends, family and homes. That’s why the USO is committed to supporting military kids at our more than 250 USO Center locations around the world, providing a network of “home away from homes” that they can always turn to.

That is why the USO is there by the side of our military children, every step of the way. Military children can visit many of the 250+ USO Center locations around the globe, where they can find a “home away from home” no matter where their military journey takes them. Whether they are in Virginia or Japan, a military child can walk through the doors of their local USO and be greeted with that familiar red, white and blue logo, comfy couches, games, movies and snacks. For many military children – and their families – USO Centers serve as a safe haven when everything else in their lives has changed.

At these Centers, military children will also find USO programs and events geared specifically toward military kids, to support the youngest members of our military community. These programs and events can include things like a designated post-school snack hour just for them, arts and crafts activities, trivia nights, video game tournaments, story time through the USO Reading Program and much more. USO programs and events like these can help military children feel seen and appreciated, but can also provide them with opportunities to meet and befriend other military kids going through similar experiences.

Although they don’t wear a uniform, these military kids still “serve” in their own way, and as members of the military community, they deserve our support. Thanks to the support of our generous donors, the USO is committed to supporting all members of the U.S. military community, which includes the millions of military children of the people who serve.

Share Your Military Child Experience with the USO Military Kid Creative Showcase

Gunner’s story was shared with the USO as part of our USO Military Kid Creative Showcase - an effort to feature the individual experiences of military children.

Life as a military child can be a wild ride, full of adventures and challenges, as well as new friends, new schools, new cities and new countries. Here at the USO, we want to know what YOUR military life has been like and what makes it unique so that we can share your story with the world.

Whether you express it by art or in writing – via painting or sketches, essays or poems – we want military kids to answer one question: What does being a military kid mean to you?

Enter your military kid art or writing by visiting www.uso.org/milkids.

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Every day, America’s service members selflessly put their lives on the line to keep us safe and free. Please take a moment to let our troops know how much we appreciate their service and sacrifice.


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