Friday, April 23, 2010

Military Friends: An Awesome Idea, By Casey Naillon, Age 13

Friends are an interesting topic to talk about. Moving with them is even more interesting. When you are moving, and knowing your friends will be there, it is exciting. It creates a feeling of happiness to know that there is someone you know to help you with the difficulty of being in a new place. Being around new people and adapting to new friends is what old friends help you cope with, and your friend will help you make friends, assuming they already have some. All the troubles of being a new kid and making new friends are what I will talk about in this essay.

The first problem with friends is losing them. Friends are like family, and losing family is a heartbreaking experience. The thought of losing them is enough to make you cry and beg to not leave, or threaten to handcuff your friend to you so they have to come with you. Actually leaving them will make you hate your parents and just makes you feel miserable. There is a way to feel better though. Keep in touch by e-mail or writing letters. Do activities to take your mind off them. Or, just make some new friends. Any way you choose to do, your heart will slowly heal if you allow it.

The hard part of friends is making them. If your personality is not to the standards of certain people, your options will be limited. You must be able to pick certain people that you can trust and will not pull you down. They must be able to appreciate your strengths and weaknesses, and be able to accept your personality, no matter what it is like. For example, you might be crazy or smart. Other people might criticize you for being with certain people, because of the way they act and what they wear, but you learn to stand up for who you hang out with, no matter what anybody says.

Even with good friendships comes trouble. Fights over who should stay and who should go. Arguments over what you are wearing and who you like are everyday things. It's what makes us humans, but there is a way to lessen the fights. If people are mad at you, find a way to make it up, like apologizing or getting them something, if it's someone special. Tell your friends that certain things don't have to mess up your friendship, like clothing or boyfriends. If that doesn't work, those aren't the right friends for you so go find another one.

Having friends in the military has its perks. One thing is that you can learn different things about where people have gone. Like you have a friend that has lived in Canada, so they can tell you all the customs and ideas they have if you're moving there. When you have friends in the military, you can meet new people. If you meet someone, and they have a different background you could have an easier time being friends with them because they are different and special.

Friends can have a friendly influence on all your actions. For example, if you have good friends, they will lead you away from all drugs and keep you safe, because they care and their parents have taught them what is right and what is wrong. Also having friends can affect your grades. They affect your grades by tutoring you in different subjects, even though you think you know it. Having military friends is a bit different though. When you have military friends, you can learn different military ideas and thoughts of others being in the military just by having good military friends. Of course, all good things have some bad points.

All friends have different influences on you. A not so nice one is negative. A negative influence by your friends is peer pressure to do something that will cause you bodily harm. Take smoking for example. A bad friend will want to cause you harm by persuading you to smoke, or under-age drink and then drive to a party. They can tell you things you don't want to believe, but being their friend you listen to them. Military friends can also act like that. They can give you thoughts that a certain branch of military is bad, like the Navy. Military friends and regular friends can also influence your grades. Bad friends will tell you school is a waste of time and you shouldn't try. Don't listen to them. Those people aren't bad, just misunderstood.

Some friend points are good, others are bad. That's life, but you can help make friendship stronger. Stand up, to those un¬friendly people and offer to be their friend, and say you'll be there when they need someone to talk to. Military friends are easy to talk to, because they have experience with what you are going through and are understanding. That's what friends do for each other, they are honest with each other and listen. All these points about friends, like moving with friends, losing friends, making friends, troubles with friends, perks of military friends, and positives and negative influences is what makes all military kids be glad that they are in military families and get to be awesome military friends.

Friday, April 16, 2010

On the Navy's Wings, By Camila Arzola, Age 11

Life as a military kid isn't easy, but as with all things, has a positive side, too. Looking over at the negative side just impresses people more. So on the negative side, you must move every one to three years, and let go of people you love. On the positive side, you'll see and meet people and places so magnificent, you can scan a history book going, been there, done that. Occasionally, you might just become a beloved history teacher's pet. You'll be able to impress all your teachers with your never-ending experiences. Just keep your mind open to all people and sights. See beyond the challenges.

Moving overseas is highly recommended on my account. It's an awesome opportunity to travel to exotic places even some of the richest people in the world can't or just don't go to. Europe is probably the best place to move to, for it holds some of the treasures of the world. France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Greece, the Alps, Eygpt, Turkey, and England are easy made destinations overseas. I've been to so many places I just can't count them unless I'm some type of super genius. Let's just say I've been from Monaco, to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, to Pompeii, to Germany, to Turkey! The weird thing is, I haven't been to Disney or Six Flags or even Bush Gardens!

The best place I've been to is Turkey. People there are so sympathetic and kind; it's hard not to call them 'sister', 'uncle', or 'auntie'! Some are quite persistent at making business, though. To make the salespeople go away my family dressed up like the locals and we, the girls in my family, put shawls over our heads just like a nice store keeper showed us. It was the best experience I ever had. We also went to the Hagia Sophia, an old monument that was first a catholic church and then transformed into one of the largest domes in the world and into a mosque. We also entered the blue mosque, known for the beautiful tiles used on the ceiling. I learned a lot about the Muslim religion and how girls are separated from boys so often. As my family entered the mosque, the whole thing was allowed to be seen by boys, but only a 40th of the whole thing girls were allowed to be in. Lucky Dad.

The military is also a great place to make friends all over the universe, or just the world! As you move base to base you might notice your buddy list getting enormous. Do not panic; you will survive this serious disease of addressexplodeyculus. Just calm down and get a new address book, yours might be exploding. Also remember to contact your close friends by phone, e-mail, or Facebook. Remember time zones when trying to call or else your friend might ignore you for calling them at two in the morning. Would you like someone to wake you up in the witching hour? Please remember, without friends we might as well be mind-less clones. Friends make life more enjoyable and bearable. True friends stick by your side even if you're a million light years away.

Overall military life is difficult for people of all ages. The sacrifices may be immense, but it also has fabulous opportunities. Like everything, it has it's up's, down's and slopes to deal with. Just avoid the slopes and look up. This goes with everything in life. Good luck!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

You Have to Leave for How Long? By Adam Ostergaard, Age 11

When you are a military kid, your parents will sometimes get deployed. Deployments are stressful and depressing. My dad was deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in 2005. We were very sad when we got the news that he was getting deployed. That was the first time my dad has been deployed since was born. I was seven when he left and my brother was nine. We were living in Pensacola, Florida at the time. My dad was going to be deployed for six months. This was going to be the longest time my dad and I were going to be separated. At first, I couldn't believe this was happening.

We tried to spend as much time as we could with him before we were separated for that long time. So, he decided to take time off to take a trip to Sea World. We went to Sea World because it was free for military people. He also coached my and my brother’s baseball team so he could spend time with us. I was really going to miss my dad.

We all drove to Jacksonville, Florida, because that's where his plane was to take him to Cuba. It was very miserable time when we were waiting with him at the airport. As we set our last goodbyes, our whole family was crying. I gave my dad a last hug. It was very distressing for my mom because now she was all by herself and she was going to have to take care of Luke and me all by herself. Then, we left the airport and spent a few days in Orlando, Florida. We went to Orlando to get to Disney World to cheer ourselves up. Then, we drove back home and our house felt so empty without my dad.

We were lucky that our dad was able to call us every night. If he had been deployed to Afghanistan, he wouldn't be able to call us every night. We also wrote him a letter every day telling him what's been happening at our house. We sent him a box full of little stuff telling him we still missed him. We tried our best to do our regular routine, but sometimes it was hard.

My brother couldn't eat as much, because he was sad that our dad wasn't there. So he would never eat a lot and he would never eat in public places. He said he was okay, but my mom knew it was because my dad was gone. We would stay up late for him to call just wanting to hear his voice again. We had a lot of help from neighbors, friends, and family. They would mow our yard, fix stuff that we couldn't do, and give us support when we were sad. We took a month-long trip to visit relatives so that we had some fun and weren't just sitting around missing my dad. We made a paper chain that had how many days were left until he came back home so each day one of us would rip a link off the chain. I liked seeing that chain get shorter and shorter.

It wasn't only bad for me. It was also bad for my dad. He said it was one of the saddest days of his life when he left us at the airport. He was thankful he was very busy on deployment, so the time went by fast. But he even said it still seemed like a very long time. He really appreciated the letters and care packages and shared all the goodies with his roommates. It was a great day when he saw me, Luke and mom waiting for him at the same airport.

When we had three chains left, we left our house and went to Tallahassee to visit the state capital and St. Augustine, one of the oldest cities in the United States. We did that on the way to Jacksonville to pick up my dad. We were so excited that we were finally going to see him again. We had made posters so he knew where we were. We waited anxiously in the airport for his flight to come in. Finally the flight came in! At first, other military people were coming out. Then we saw him. My brother and I ran up and gave him a big hug. I was so happy to see him after all that time. I was not separated from him anymore and I followed him around everywhere at first. My mom and dad were crying again because they were so happy to see each other. Now our family was all together again. We started our drive home telling stories and showing pictures. We got home, we surprised him with a big poster we made saying “Welcome Home Dad”. That deployment was one of the hardest things that has happened to our family, but I think it also brought us closer and made us each stronger.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Living the American Dream Abroad - By Braylee Gilbert, Age 12

Eleven of the past 12 years of my life have been spent overseas. I have lived in places many dream of visiting. For me, this is the only life I've ever known. I was born into of a military family.

I am the youngest of three children. I have two older brothers. I was born in Yokosuka, Japan, while my dad was deployed, because the President wanted a two carrier presence in the Persian Gulf. We met when I was three months old. The next day I was baptized in the ship's engineering bell. He was only home for thirty days and was gone again for another five months. I didn't know it at the time but this was going to be business as usual for my family.

In 2000, I experienced my first Permanent Change of Station (PCS) move to Guam. My mom said that I would ask to “go home”. Now I know home is whereever the Navy sends us. Guam offered me the opportunity to learn how to swim and snorkel the Marianas Trench. It was like swimming in an aquarium, the fish were so beautiful and the water crystal clear. I attended my first school, Southern Christian Academy and earned my first academic award. I was three when the awful tragedy of 9/11 occurred, but I didn't understand what was happening. I just remember being scared and waking up to my dad not being home. My dad's shore duty was cut short and he was reassigned only 22 months into his tour. It was here I also discovered the pain of saying good-bye. I was now old enough to understand we were moving again and my dad was going back to sea.

In 2002, I was living in Sasebo, Japan. It was a big change for me. I would attend Kurinomi Yochien, Japanese Kindergarten. I was the only person in my class that didn't speak Japanese and didn't have black hair. Over the next two years I would become fluent in Japanese; learn the piano; play soccer, baseball, and basketball; and be the youngest person on my swim team. It was here I won my first biathlon. Eating with chopsticks was preferred over forks. Seaweed, rice, yakisoba noodles and curry would become my favorite foods. I learned to respect the Asian culture, accept that people are different and one culture is not better than another. It was here my dad was sent to Malaysia to help with Tsunami Relief. I was sad because he was supposed to coach my basketball team. I know what he was doing was important and would positively impact many lives. They needed him more than we did.

In 2005 my older brother, Brandon, graduated from high school and once again we were moving, this time to Jacksonville, Florida. We were so happy to be going stateside because it meant shore duty. However, only ten days from arriving back to the states, my dad found out he had to report to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for a nine month Individual Augment (IA). I remember crying because we were supposed to be together as a family after three years of forward deployed life. My mom said it was still shore duty, just a different shore. The next year would be one of the most difficult for my whole family. It was a year of adjustments with my brother, Brandon, going to college, and me not having any friends, changing schools and celebrating the holidays without my dad. I was worried having moved to a new house that Santa wouldn't find me. I shouldn't have worried. The night of my holiday concert; in the rain, my brothers put lights on the house, just for me. They saved my Christmas.

By now I was beginning to understand what being a military family is all about. We depend on each other to make things work. We start to want things more for each other than for ourselves. We become pretty good at keeping things normal when this life is anything but normal. However, we are strong and totally committed to each other.

Exactly one year from arriving in Jacksonville we were once again on the move. But not before making my First Holy Communion. I was so happy my dad made it back for my big day and even prouder when he agreed to wear his dress white uniform. Not being in a DoDDS school, his presence in uniform was quite impressive.

The summer of 2006, my family was headed to Europe. While here, I've had the opportunity to travel and experience a completely new culture - just another chapter in the adventures of a military child. While here, I discovered my hidden talent of running, competing in the base to base 7.2 mile run in 1: 11. I learned a lot about myself that day. This past fall, I made the Middle School Flag Team. I broke my arm the day before homecoming. I performed the high school half time, one handed, determined not to miss my brother's big day.

The older I get, the more I am able to appreciate what a gift I have as a military dependent.

My dad going away means we can live in a world where we have choices. I've learned to accept things I cannot change and make the best of what I have. Life is not about having the best, it's about doing the best with what you have. We've endured separations that have changed our lives forever. We have developed relationships with other military families and have become extended families, supporting each other in good times and bad. We shop at the same stores and stand for the national anthem before watching a movie. We have a strong sense of community and despite all we lack on a small base in Sicily, I wouldn't change a thing.

Growing up abroad means I benefit from the cultural diversity of having friends from all over. We have one common bond; we are here to support our service member and each other. We are growing up in a safe and loving environment. What we lack in commercial luxuries, common place in the states, like malls and fast food, we make up personally with the ability to overcome adversity and adaptability. Even now as I write this I don't think I will appreciate what I have experienced until I am much older. Living abroad has made me the person I am today. It's not a glamorous life and by no means easy. When it's good it's awesome! When things are out of our control ... well, not so much.

I am Braylee Gilbert, Navy daughter, growing up abroad and proud ambassador to the United States.


Julie Rahm

Mindset means everything. And no one knows this better than Julie Rahm, aka America's Mindset Mechanic. A former naval physicist, Julie applies physics to the energy of human thought and the results thoughts create. As a military daughter, spouse and mother-in-law she has experienced the challenges of deployment separations, frequent moves and telecommuting careers while remaining happy and achieving her dreams. With her passion and people-loving style, Julie has provided the metaphorical tools for thousands of people to bridge the gap between their thoughts and their lives. Julie Rahm, M.S., is a certified Frame of Mind Coach who has appeared on numerous television and radio broadcasts, including The Phil Knight Show and ABC affiliates. She hosts The Mindset Mechanic LIVE on Saturdays and Sundays on FM107.1 WTKF and AM1240 WJNC in Eastern NC. Her weekly column The Mindset Mechanic appears in The Pamlico News. She has been quoted in numerous newspapers, and on the web at and Julie is an inspirational keynote speaker conveying life lessons through a blend of intuitive success strategies, enlightened wisdom, humor and fun. She is the Champion of Military Kids around the World. Julie's latest book is Volume I of Military Kids Speak.

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