Salute to Spouses Blog

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Military Children need supported by everyone, including the civilian community

Two million children have had a parent deploy since 2001.

Hear me as I speak. Two. Million.

That number is staggering. That is two million children who have watched a parent walk away never knowing if they would see them again.

That is two million children who have stayed up at night worrying about their parent.

That is two million children who have caught a glimpse of the news or hushed words of an explosion, a helicopter crash, a battle and sat anxiously, wondering if their parent was still alive.

That is two million children who may have cried themselves to sleep, who may have had trouble concentrating in school due to deployment, who may have finally made a close friend only to move away weeks later.

These children have given up their mom or dad so that the rest of us can be safe from harm. These children will never know what it is like to graduate with the same kids they knew in kindergarten. These children have given up stability and security for a life designed with the needs of the nation put before their own.

These children need to be supported not just by their military community but by the nation as a whole.

April, the national Month of the Military Child, is a great time to help our civilian counterparts understand what they can do to help our military children.

Currently there are 12 million children of active duty parents, worldwide. Nearly 80 percent of those children attend public schools.

Roughly 1/3 of those school-age military children display signs of being anxious, worrying and cry more frequently. Schools located on military bases know how important it is to support these children during a deployment.

Outside the gate, sometimes that message, that understanding is lost.

AASA, The School Superintendents Association, has an entire toolkit on its website to help educators understand how to best support these students, especially during deployment. The AASA website says: 

·  A positive school environment, built upon caring relationships among all participants—students, teachers, staff, administrators, parents and community members—has been shown to impact not only academic performance but also positively influence emotions and behaviors of students.

·  Supporting the military child takes a school-wide effort, and professional development opportunities to inform school staff of the academic and social-emotional challenges military children face.  

School-wide. Community-wide. Positive environment. These are words and directions we need to share with the civilian schools our children attend.

When my husband retired and we moved to a town more than an hour from the closest military base, I figured our military children would be an anomaly. I was wrong, there are more than a dozen military kids in our tiny civilian school, several who have parents currently deployed.

As a military spouse I see it as my job to make sure these children, all of our military children, are cared for and loved in their time of service. It is your job too.

Step up at your civilian school as a parent volunteer and make sure there are programs in place to support military children who attend. Reach out to other military families in the area. Reach out to your principal and superintendents to make sure they are aware of the needs of these families and see what you can do to help.

Military children give of themselves every day their parent serves. We need to make sure we have their back.

Access the AASA toolkit at:

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