Life as a Servicemember isn’t easy. Being in the military is more than just a career -- it’s a lifestyle. And we’ve adapted to being flexible, especially when it comes to things such as PCS moves. But what about military children?
While our Servicemen and Women are often recognized in U.S. society, children are often overlooked. Though they may not be the ones in uniform, they often make sacrifices of their own as part of our military families. Each year in April, we celebrate our military kids during Month of the Military Child.
Life as a Military Brat
The term “military brat” is worn like a badge of honor in our communities, though the term “brat” may not have as many positive connotations in civilian circles. Military brats are those current or former children of Servicemembers -- and those identifying as military brats are estimated to be about 15 million strong. Even people from John Denver to Shaquille O’Neal to Reese Witherspoon are famous military brats.
But it’s no secret that life as a military kid isn’t easy. While there are currently an estimated 1.2 million military children of active duty members worldwide, approximately 2 million military children have experienced the deployment of a parent since 9/11.
Not only do military kids experience the stress of parental deployments, they often move around, never staying in one place for long. The average military family moves three times more often than their average civilian counterparts, and military brats are likely to attend between four and 12 different schools during their K-12 education. They average only two years at each school. Military kids show their resilience time and time again.
However, despite the hardships that come from being a military brat, many are able to find some silver linings. In some cases, they may have experiences that other kids their age don’t get to have. For example, while moving abroad somewhere such as Japan or Germany may be difficult, they gain the experience of interacting with people of a different culture, they may get to travel more than their civilian peers, and they may even pick up a foreign language at a young age.
It's for these reasons a popular meme circulates comparing military children to dandelions. A excerpt of it offers: They “bloom everywhere the winds carry them. They are hardy and upright … cultivated deeply in the culture of the military – planted swiftly and surely…. Military children are well-rounded, culturally aware, tolerant and extremely resilient….”
About Month of the Military Child
Month of the Military Child is a time to honor the sacrifices of military families everywhere, especially when it comes to the dependent children of military members at home and overseas. The month is sponsored by the Department of Defense Military Community and Family Policy and is supported by several other organizations.
Month of the Military Child was first designated in 1986 by Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, and it’s been celebrated in April ever since. During the month, many initiatives and organizations with the goal of supporting military children are put in the spotlight.
These initiatives take place both on military bases and in local military communities, and not only during the month of April. There are more than 150 schools for military children worldwide operated by the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA), and military child development centers welcome more than 200,000 children each day.
Many organizations are doing important work to support our military children every day of the year. In April, we make a special effort to recognize our children and these helpful organizations.
Month of the Military Child Events
Throughout the month of April, Month of the Military Child will be celebrated through a variety of events. While some may be specific to military bases and local military communities, we hope this list gives every military family something to celebrate -- no matter where you are:
Young Lives, Big Stories Contest: This yearly contest, which runs from April 1-30, gives military kids the chance to share their stories about what it means to be a military kid. Stories can be shared through different forms of art -- drawing, poem or song writing, or essays. Children and teens 3 years old through 12th grade can enter. There are multiple categories with individual winners, and one grand prize winner. Learn more about entering the YLBS contest.
“Purple Up!” For Military Kids Day: Thursday, April 15 is this year’s “Purple Up!” Day. It’s a day for the DoDEA Communities to show their support and appreciation for military children. As each branch of the military has a specific color -- blue for Air Force, green for Army, blue for Navy, red for Marines, and blue for Coast Guard -- all come together and wear purple. Some military Exchanges may offer special treats to kids wearing purple.
Virtual Military Teen Summit: The CYS (Child and Youth Services) has partnered with Boys and Girls Clubs of America to create the first-ever virtual military teen summit. This initiative aims to bring military teens from around the world together to discuss issues that affect them. There will be guest speakers, key influencers, and fun activities for all. This year’s event will be held from April 22-24.
We Support Service Members and Their Families
At Armed Forces Bank, we appreciate your dedication to serving our country. And we know your kids have made sacrifices, too.
Military families have different needs, and your banking has to meet those needs. No matter where you are in the world, we aim to make everything -- from banking solutions to financial advice- - personal, valuable, and convenient for you.