Pressures placed on military families

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For most high school students, the thought of their parents coming to harm is an unlikely idea that rarely surfaces. These students have lived in the same school district for a large part of their lives, moving perhaps once or twice, and have cultivated strong friendships over the years. Life, however, is completely different for those in military families and are involved in frequent relocations and the constant threat of a parent on active duty being sent to war.

Although the friendships forged by military children are no less strong than those made by other students, they must make their friends as quickly as possible, often with little time to enjoy these new acquaintances before moving on.

For some students, these moves come with startling frequency. “I have lived in 48 states, three provinces in Canada and Puerto Rico,” said senior Samuel Leslie, whose father was in the Coast Guard for 20 years. “I’ve never actually settled anywhere and I don’t open myself up to a lot of people… It’s extremely painful when [I] have to leave.”

For others, these frequent moves have made it possible for them to enjoy living in other countries.

“Language is a big thing when moving, especially to a foreign country,” said senior Ashley Wallage, who moved out of the AHS area last year due to her parent’s military careers. “Going out to eat is always an experience.”

But frequent movement has it’s benefits. For example, students from military families have lived around the entire country, not to mention the world.

“I’ve lived in Japan, Arizona, Germany, Florida, Virginia, Oklahoma, New York and California,” said senior Zac Robinson.

And while most agree that it’s hard to leave friends behind, moving is not always bad for one’s social skills.

“Moving so often has made me more social. If you are not social it is not fun at all because you will be a loner in your room all day entertaining yourself,” said Wallage.
“There are definitely challenges in relationships with people, but I have become good at making friends. I have learned to be outgoing, which I feel is the result of my dad being in the Marine Corps,” said senior Sam Sofge.

Although moving can be a painful experience, it is nothing compared to the fear many students undergo during their parent’s deployments.

“Since 2001, my dad has been to the Iraq region three times. Once he was stationed on a base in Kuwait and the two other times he was in Al Asad, Iraq,” said Sofge, “Other than combat missions, he’s done several deployments, which is something they do regularly. He’s usually gone about six months at a time.”

The absence of a parents affects every aspect of a student’s home life.

“It is important when one of them is traveling or is deployed that the rest of the family picks up the responsibilities of the other… It is sad when he leaves, but it gives us a reason to look forward to the future when he comes home,” said Sofge.

This wish, that one’s parents will return safely from overseas, is held in the heart of almost every military child.

“The most important thing is that I know my dad is doing a service to the nation, and I am thankful to have him in my life,” said Sofge.

Even with the many challenges that these students face, most keep a positive attitude by focusing not on their struggles, but on the tremendous service that their parents are doing for their country.