Saturday, July 24, 2010

Deployments Are Hard, By Gabriella Kesterton

In the lives of military children and families, you will most likely encounter a deployment of one or both of your parents. A deployment is where your parent leaves to go to a foreign country to help out in countries like Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq. It can take months or even a year for your parent to return. My dad has deployed three times in two years! I really felt sad most of the time he was gone in Kuwait so let me tell you about one of his deployments.

It was late October when my dad had left to go to Kuwait. Since my dad is and has been an only father, and since I could not go with him, he had to bring me all the way to Iowa, where my family lived. We were in Rota, Spain at the time; so it was a long flight over to the states! 11 hours of brrrrrrrrrrring on a C-130 was completely annoying and miserable. I had jet lag for a couple days adjusting to the U.S. times.

I was going to live with my aunt and uncle, including my two playful cousins. They were all so helpful in making me feel better about my dad being gone. For instance, after school I would play with them, give them baths, cuddle on the couch, and other stuff. My aunt comforted me when I couldn’t hold in the sadness much longer and my uncle had helped me with school stuff. My grandma and grandpa had helped out, too. My grandpa would sometimes watch the girls and me whenever he could help. Having family there for you is important when your parent is on deployments. A pet being with you helps a lot, too. Trust me! At night, my little dog would cuddle up around my belly and sleep with me all night. He made me feel at home. I made lots of new friends and reunited with old friends from childhood. My dad had been sending gifts and letters, including e-mails and pictures of what was going on in Kuwait. Every day he made an attempt to contact me in some way. I liked that a lot.

Getting into school activities and doing fun stuff can help take your mind off of your parent being gone. I joined basketball and often went to the park, the zoo, swimming, and other fun stuff. You can also write in a diary or journal of your days. Then keep them for memories.

From what I’ve heard, children can sometimes be depressed, hyper, sleepless, and even unbearable at times. It’s usually because your parents are not there and you feel sad, mad, anxious, worried, or nervous. Everyday I felt those same emotions.

Every night I would pray that my dad would be okay, and that tomorrow he would give me a call so I know that he’s all right. Every day I would look forward to his calls, e-mails, letters, and gifts. And almost all the time I thought of him.

There were a few more months left to go and when he came back, we were going to be going to Sicily, Italy. I would have to leave my friends and family, but I would be happy to be with my dad.

When the time nears and your mom/dad comes home, you feel so relieved and anxious. Mostly, you feel joyful. Sure enough, my dad came home after fourteen months in Kuwait and I was happier than you could ever imagine! I’m glad to have him home, and I’m glad that I had family and friends there when he wasn’t. A few weeks later, we packed our bags and said good-bye to everyone. I am so blessed to have such wonderful family and friends with me.

I still keep in touch with family and friends through e-mail and phone calls. Life is different without your family with you, and I sure do miss them. I think it has changed my life by how much closer I am to family and friends. I said that I would be back for 10th grade when my dad retires, so I look forward to seeing friends and family again.

Deployments are hard but you get through them. Just remember that when your parents are gone, they’re still there only far away.

I hope this story has helped everyone in some way with deployments. God bless America and all of the troops out there fighting for freedom.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Moving from Florida to Germany, By Axel Delgado, Age 12

I will never forget the day when my mother asked me if I wanted to move to Germany. I thought she was joking around, so I just started to laugh. But then she gave me that "I'm not joking" look.

That made me ask, "Mom, are you really serious?"

Then she said, “Yes.”

"Why do you want us to move, Mom?"

"Because it will be a great experience to go to another country. Don't you want to go there and be able to experience other cultures?"

At that time, my family was living in Florida and I really liked it there, so I did not want to move.

My mom then showed me many old towns and cool monuments and stuff like that on the computer. She also showed me theme parks and water parks. I had that "want to go / do not want to go" feeling. It was kind of hard to know how I was feeling. I still said no, because I was trying to decide. I went to bed that night with a thousand thoughts of moving and deciding whether or not to go to Germany. The thought was like a thousand bees buzzing inside my head.

I imagined myself walking in the streets of Germany all by myself looking at signs I could not read, and talking to people I could not understand. I also had nice thoughts about it. I thought about visiting places only people thought and dreamed of seeing. When I saw it that way, my mind opened up more. I thought it probably wouldn’t be that bad. I will have to lose some friends for whatever amount of time, but it will be interesting.

The next day, I woke up and saw a beautiful day ahead of me. I made a quick sprint to where my mother was getting ready for work.

"How is my insane little child today?" she asked me.

"I'm doing great", I said, loudly. "Mom, I have been thinking about Germany. I think I have a maybe.”

"That's good, honey. Anyway, if we do decide we want to, we have until December.”

After that, I slowly jogged over to my friend's house thinking, What will Germany look like? The weather? The people? Will there be the same type of cars? Will the language be hard to learn? All these questions would be answered in time.

When I arrived, I found my friends sword fighting in the front yard. The red and purple colors of their light sabers turned into a blur as they continued to fight.

"Hi Brandon and Daniel!" I yelled in great excitement.

"Hi Axel," they yelled back. They both were brothers. The one with the purple light saber was (at that time) nine-year-old Daniel and the one with the red light saber was (at that time) 12-year-old Brandon.

"I have something to tell you guys," I said.

"What?" they asked.

"I might be moving to Germany."

They, of course, said I was crazy so I just told them all the great things that my mom had told me.

"Wow, so they actually have a Lego Land?" asked Daniel.

"Germany has mountains?" asked Brandon.

As I arrived back to my house, I asked my mother how long we would stay if we went to Germany. She said it would be three years. I also asked my mom what job she would have. I found out that she would be a doctor for the Army. She would work there in the day and come off post at night to a house out in the local community. I thought that we would live on the base with the Americans, but we were going to live off base with the Germans. I was very excited by this to know that we were going to live in Germany.

When summer ended and school started, I told my friends and fellow pupils that I would maybe be moving to Germany. They at once all started to laugh their heads off. Then, when they saw what kind of face I was wearing, they all just backed up. Their eyes grew wide as if they were being pinched through the skin.

Soon, a few months later, after all the laughs, the byes, and the cries, which I treasured dearly, we departed. The ride on that plane was the longest ever ridden by me (literally and emotionally). There was some period of time when I hated living in Germany and everyone living in it. I was mad. I wanted go back to Florida to the hot, humid weather and not be in the cold, dry weather. I wanted to see my old friends again. I had no friends here. I thought that no one liked me.

Soon, little by little, I started forgetting my friends and Florida. I started getting used to the weather. I started to get used to being surrounded by military kids. I now see the world as a better, clearer world. All because of that “old” Axel sacrificing friends and everything he knew to come to Germany. That is how I see the world—through the eyes of this new "military-living-abroad" child.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Voice of a Military Child, By Darian Merritt, Age 13

When I first found out that my family and I were moving to Germany, I was shocked, happy, and confused all at the same time. I had never lived abroad. In addition, I never really lived anywhere but Texas for most of my life. My father joined the military just after 9/11 and our first base was Ft. Hood, Texas. My dad was deployed three times from there and asked for orders to Germany, so that we could visit new places. However, that isn't what this paper is about. It is about my life as a military kid.

Being in a military family, a lot of things are expected of you. I grew up doing, feeling, and seeing things some people don't even think about. My father goes to war. At movies we stand for a minute to pay respect and these things become normal to some of us. They became normal to me.

When a parent is deployed, you are expected to step up a great deal more than you're used to. When my dad deploys, for example, I'm expected to do more work around the house, help with my little brother, and anything else that could make things easier for the rest of my family. I, personally, like to keep up with the news wherever I am and where my dad is serving his deployment.

Being in a military family, you grow up learning some not exactly ordinary things. For example, growing up I learned a number of acronyms, like MIA (missing in action), ACU (army combat uniform), and PCS (permanent change of station). We also learn respect for the flag and the United States, and other countries. For instance, before a movie plays on base everyone there stands as the national anthem plays.

Another part of growing up in a military family is that you learn from good examples. The soldiers are dedicated, on time, organized, well-dressed, and wear their uniforms with pride. The military life is also strict. When you get in trouble you aren't the only one who gets the blame. Your parents get the blame as well. You don't just hold your reflection, you hold the reflections of your duty station, your family, and the entire military, too.

School can also be hard at times. Between deployments, moving, and everything else I have going on, it can be hard to think about school work. Sometimes my grades slip because I can't keep on task or keep my mind on topic. It will drift to something completely off topic and ruin my concentration. My mind will drift to my dad in Iraq, or a friend's parent.

Another part of being a military kid is that you get some opportunities other people don't get. One benefit is that when shopping at military shops we don't pay taxes. An additional advantage is educational benefits. Some scholarships are awarded specifically to military families, and a G.I bill could pay for our college experience. In addition, military kids can go to camps specifically for military children, to meet other military children. We also have opportunities to move to places all over the states and places in foreign countries.

Being a military kid can be tough at times, but I think it's worth it in the long run. Military people will always hold a special bond with one another, no matter how far apart. That bond is caused by the unity of us through one common factor that makes such a huge difference in all of our lives, and everyone else's.


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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