April is Month of the Military Child, underscoring the important role military children play in the armed forces community. To honor their unique contributions and sacrifices on behalf of our country, each April is designated the Month of the Military Child.
This is a special month for our family. My husband has just returned from his second deployment. When he left in July, our baby had just turned a year old, and our oldest had not yet started kindergarten. In the time he’s been away, they have grown into a full-blown toddler and a know-it-all 6-year-old.
Schools, jobs, and routines have changed. Pets died. Decisions were made–alone–for better or worse. Deployment is this unique, and thankfully temporary, space in time. As the person at home, you are trying to maintain the standards of a two-person household, as one person. The deployed spouse is often facing even greater stress on top of the fact that they are powerless to help at home.
We are reintegrating. Giving as much, grace, space and time to each family member as we can. We are working to practice trust and forgiveness as we re-calibrate and get back on track.
That’s why this month is important to me. At a time when there is a month for everything, you may be asking yourself, how relevant it is? There are currently 1.2 million military children of active duty members worldwide. Chances are, you know someone experiencing some of these same stresses. In other words, pretty relevant.
Supporting the military child means supporting the entire family, and takes a community-wide effort. I am so thankful to our friends, family, neighbors, teachers, and colleagues who rallied. They brought meals, opened their homes, shared holidays, faith traditions and so much more.
If you, or someone you know, is new to military life or facing deployment, I hope you can benefit from these additional resources. They have been lifesavers for us:
- Join your local YMCA. It’s free during deployment. This was crucial for our family. It offered a safe and caring place for our kids to play, respite, and a healthy outlet for me. I took advantage of all the Kids Nights Outs!
- Check out Sesame Street. Is there a better resource for teaching parents how to have difficult conversations? With my husband away, I was glad to have Elmo as my partner for these tough talks.
- Visit your local Boys & Girls Club. This is a great resource anytime, but especially during deployment. The Boys & Girls Club is an organization that has supported military families at home, and overseas, for decades.
- Seek professional help. There are some things that respite and Sesame Street can’t entirely resolve. For these things, visit https://giveanhour.org/ for access to free professional counseling.