BY ASHLEY BLUE
The entire month of April marks a huge celebration for US military schools and bases all across the country. Back in 1986, Department Secretary Caspar Weinberger established the entire month of April to be deemed as “Month of the Military Child.” This time is dedicated to acknowledging not only the hardships and trials, but also endurance and strength that military children display. So, this month let’s focus our attention and appreciation towards the little ones that show the most bravery through their sacrifice on the home front.
I was given the opportunity to talk with an amazing military spouse and her boys about their personal experiences of struggle and triumph while growing up military. Carrie Jennings is eleven years into her parenting journey raising her four boys Ryan (13), Levi (10), Rhys (6), and Liam (3). Being a fellow military spouse and a new mom myself, it was an honor to learn their stories while also truly insightful to view this journey from the children’s perspective. They helped paint a real picture of what they actually experience while navigating through military life.
Dedicated from the Start
Eleven years ago, Carrie and her husband made the huge life altering decision for him to join the military. At the time Ryan, their oldest, was only three years old. “We didn’t give much, if any, thought to the challenges of raising a family in the military lifestyle. Of course, we didn’t know where we were going, but we were excited for the possibility our children would do more and see more than we did growing up.” This statement alone is a true testament to the life that military children get to experience. But even though there are some incredibly amazing opportunities that come along with growing up as a military child, there are also many challenges to combat.
Carrie, her husband, and little Ryan were super excited to embark on their new journey so many years ago. Fast forward eleven years, three additional little boys and three duty stations later, the family has a brand new seasoned perspective on what it means to grow up as a “military brat.”
Battling Through Struggles
Military children are faced with intense hardships such as separation anxiety, deployments, frequent moves and loss of friends, along with constant readjusting and adapting to the new. These types of situations could occur multiple times within their childhood. Carrie’s younger three boys were born into this life, making it their norm. But Ryan actually still has memories of being back in their hometown close to family, which he misses. “My brothers and I agree that one of the hardest parts of being a military kid is when we or our friends move away. Moving is rough, especially when we move overseas and we might have to go without most of our stuff for a few months. TDYs/deployments are tough, too. For us and for mom and dad.”
Celebrating the Victories
Even though there is a huge amount of opposition that these children face, these struggles inherently engrave in them an incredible amount of strength, astonishing endurance, and insightful optimism as a result. Levi mentioned, “We love getting to see new places. We love getting to experience new cultures, food, music, and trying to learn a different language. We also love meeting people and making new friends, even though they might eventually move away.” Ryan added, “But that just means there’s a high probability we might know someone wherever we may go in the future.”
Heart to Serve
Perspective such as this is priceless. The Jennings boys have learned the art of seeing the best in things and enjoying wherever life might take them. This is a golden lesson that will inevitably stay with them throughout their entire lives. All thanks to Carrie and her husband’s selfless act of service to our country.
Thank you to Carrie’s husband for your service. Thank you, Carrie, for your service. And this month most of all, thank you, Ryan, Levi, Rhys, and Liam, for your incredible service and endless sacrifices that you make for our country every day.