What Does It Mean to Be a Military Child?

By Kendra B., Age 13

What does it mean to be a military child to me? Well, to me, it means so many things. It has brought so many good as well as bad things into my life. Everyone always asks, “How many schools have you been to?” as well as “Which states have been your favorites?“ These are the questions I get asked the most. Being a military child has brought me many memories. Some were when my mom was a military training leader (MTL). The airmen were like my older siblings. They always played around with me and made me feel welcomed. On the other hand, there have been some heartbreaking moments. Such as leaving my best friends that I have previously met. Making new friends in every new location can be difficult, but I like to think I’m a professional at friend-making!

I have traveled so much. I feel very honored to travel as much as I do because I know there are kids who don’t get the opportunity that I do. One of my favorite things about being a military child is meeting new people. I love meeting new people and comparing the new environment to my old one. Sometimes the new environment is more welcoming, or vice versa. Also, having new places to go is very exciting. Such as trying new restaurants or finding new hiking spots! One of the most difficult things about being a military child is switching states in the middle of a school year. Such as switching states in middle school. I had to move from Colorado to Arizona in middle school. I moved during the seventh grade. It was difficult because the states were learning two completely different things at the time.

Military children have to deal with a lot. One painful thing is the deployment. Our parents may get hit with a deployment, and sometimes it can be scary or painful without your parents. My mom is currently deployed, and it can be difficult at times. Being a military child is as much of an opportunity as it is a disadvantage. Many kids without military parents find it hard to come close to understanding the pain we military kids go through. One thing I do know is that the parents are extremely proud of us kids for being as strong as we are. Especially because some of us were born into a military family. We kids are extremely proud of our parents as well. They are the toughest and bravest people to us. They are the role models every kid deserves, military or not. My mom is the most important part of my life. She is my role model, and everything I do is for her. Being her child, and a military child, is a true blessing. I’m very grateful to be a military child, or, as some say, a military brat!

Military children are also very strong and brave. When our parents get deployed, we may have to go six months to a year without our hero. It can be very heavy without our hero. Our parents are the reason we have an extra family and so many friends. The military is like a second home in a way. It’s full of relating individuals who may be going through the same thing as another. There’s always a shoulder to lean on in the military family. It may be hard without our parents while they’re deployed, but once they get back, it’s an amazing feeling that is very hard to describe in words.

Being a military child is exciting to me. It’s full of surprises. It always leaves me expecting the unexpected. I am so blessed to be a military child and to have as many opportunities as I do. In conclusion, being a military child to me is about family, love and having love for my military family. The USO is another big part, it brings us military children together with different activities. Even though it may not be by blood, I know us military children are here for each other and that our parents are there for each other as well.

How the USO Stands By Military Kids Like Kendra

Through the ups and downs of military life, military children like Kendra often sacrifice in their own way, and need support and community just like their service member parents. With the help of USO Centers and programming, they can find just that.

As Kendra mentioned, military children deal with a lot, especially painful deployments that can leave them longing for some sort of connection with their parents who are serving far away. That is why the USO Centers have special programming such as the USO Reading Program. Through this program, service members can record themselves reading a book to their child; the recording and a copy of the book are then sent back home, so that, in a way, they can be present for storytime back home.

Military children can also find other youth-oriented activities in these Centers such as arts and crafts, scavenger hunts and family game nights where they meet and find community amongst their peers who are going through the same challenges as they are.

No matter what activity they are engaged with, USO programs are designed to give these children a little fun so that they can forget, even if for just a moment, the stress of life as a military child.

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

Kendra’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.

More Stories Like This

  • Dandelion: A Poem From the Perspective of a Military Kid

    Konner J., age 17, shares a personal poem about life as a military child who, like the dandelion, must bloom and grow wherever they are planted during Month of the Military Child.

  • Why Military Children Should Not Have to Move

    Gunner M., age 10, is a military kid. Like many military children, he must pick up and move every two to three years, leaving behind friends, school and a feeling of home. In honor of Month of the Military Child, Gunner shared an essay on why, in his opinion, military kids should not have to move to every duty station.

  • Navigating Life and My Identity as a Military Kid

    Sarah B., age 17, is a military brat who has had the challenging experience of having to call a new place “home” every few years. In honor of Month of the Military Child, Sarah shares her reflections on growing up in the military in this personal essay.

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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