Saturday, August 28, 2010

My Dad’s Fourth Deployment, By Trenton Sanders, Age 12

Our family lives overseas on a naval base in Sicily, Italy. I'm 12 years old. In my opinion, a deployment is when my dad goes with a group of people from our duty station to somewhere away from the family. He was on a humanitarian deployment to Nicaragua when I was nine months old. His second deployment was when I was six years old. He went to Iraq. The third one was to Kuwait when I was 10 years old. Soon my dad is leaving for Afghanistan on an Individual Augment or IA. We have been blessed as a military family in that my dad has only been deployed four times during his 16 years of service in the Navy. I have good and bad feelings about the deployment that is ahead for our family. These deployments have affected many parts of my life, but have made me stronger in many ways.

There are certain traditions we do before and after his deployments. First, we have a family meeting discussing our feelings about his deployment. He tells us where he is going and shows us on the map. It helps me to know where he is going to be by physically seeing the location on the map. Another tradition is he takes a picture of himself with me and writes a note on it and gives it to me the day he leaves. Then, for his return, we make signs welcoming him home. We also plan a large trip when he returns. It gives all of us something to plan for when he returns. The last deployment, we went to Paris, France and to Euro Disney. This deployment, we are hoping to go to Ireland.

Another piece of my life that is affected by military deployments is my education. During the second deployment my dad went on, my grades really fell. I feel now I have matured so I am not as emotional and naïve. I have a hard time staying on task when he leaves. My thoughts always seem to wander toward how he is and what he's doing. My mood will change to gloomy and gray. My dad is defending our country in the toughest and most dangerous places in the world while I am attending my classes, doing my homework and chores, and living my day-to-day routine here in Sigonella where I cannot do anything for him.

The separation is a pretty hard thing to get over. Then again, there are good times and bad times when he is gone. Some of the bad times are when we get reminded of his absence. Examples of this are someone asking “Where's your dad?” or thinking “What dad would do?” When he was on his last IA, I got depressed when I looked at the dinner table and saw one plate missing. My dad thinks it is very important for the family to eat together at dinner. Miranda, my six-year-old sister, would state “Where is daddy?” and “I want my daddy home!” in the evenings. When this happens, the three of us get teary and cry. Mom and I tell her that he is coming back soon and he is thinking of her, too. I believe deployments are one percent good in a way. They make me stronger and make me more responsible by assisting my family in our daily routines.

To help the three members of my family get our minds off my dad being deployed, we do fun family activities. To help us keep track of the time that has gone by, we make a paper chain that explains the highlights of each week as they passed by. Another activity is we have family fun nights where we watch movies, play games, or read to each other. Our biggest event is going back to the states during the summer to visit family and friends. Keeping busy with our many events and after school activities assists us in passing the long, hard eight months of my dad's deployment.

In conclusion, this deployment, I feel I am more mature and I have had more experience than other kids. It will still be tough because he will be in an even more unsafe area than any other IA deployment he has experienced. The areas I have talked about in my essay hit me the most when he has gone to wherever.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Living in Germany, By Morgan Stockdill, Age 11

Hi, I'm here to tell you all about the good and bad things that by living overseas as a military child may happen to you. My dad is a 1st Sergeant in the Army and I live in Schweinfurt, Germany. I am a sixth grader in Schweinfurt Middle School, home of the Golden Nights. I am not the coolest person in school, but I am smart. I am an average looking person with brown hair, brown eyes and freckles. I have one younger brother, one older sister and so I'm the middle child. I was born in Fort Polk, Louisiana in 1998 and lived there only one year and then we moved to Fort Benning, Georgia. My brother was born in Fort Benning, Georgia in 2000. We stayed there for almost two years and then moved to Germany in 2001. I lived in Germany nine years and I am still here. It's amazing— Most people move in about three or four years, but I've been stuck here forever. These are a few facts about me and what I'm about to write about. I hope you enjoy my story.

My family and I have traveled to many places around Europe and we even took an 11-hour plane flight to Japan (which gave me a headache). This is one of my favorite things about living abroad. When I go home to the states and tell my cousins about all the places I've been, their eyes like pop out. My cousins told me that they have only been to Florida, Canada, and Pennsylvania, where they live. I thought Columbus showed us that the world is not flat and that you won't fall off the edge if you travel too far. So why don't people in the USA travel on a plane and go somewhere new, so they may even learn something? I’ll bet that many people in the USA don't even leave the continent of North America. Leaving North America is only one advantage of living abroad. While traveling, you can learn about different cultures, customs, and languages. You get to see great things like the Mona Lisa in Paris, the Blarney stone in Ireland, the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, Tulips of Holland, Mt. Fuji in Japan, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. All these things I have seen. Do you think that the people in the U.S.A. kind of live in a bubble? Some people think that there is nothing more than where they live and what they have seen. Traveling is my favorite thing about living abroad.

Living abroad is very different than living in the USA. There are many things you have to get used to. While living in Germany, I have learned how to look for certain things. For instance, if I was looking for a gift for my friend, I would have to go the Post Exchange, because over here we don't have a mall, book store, or Toys R Us. We don't get all the products that can be found in the U.S. The people here learn English in school, but sometimes are not the best at it. So when you live here you learn how to speak German also. Staying in touch with friends and family is sometimes a pain in the butt, but we make it. Sometimes I wish that we were in the U.S., but then I remember how many things I love over here.

I would like to tell you about Germany and other ways it's different from the USA. First, all the stores are closed on Sunday and on most holidays. A lot of people ride bikes around here. My dad and I have ridden from my house all the way through Schweinfurt to where my mom works on base (which most of the time takes an hour). In spring, every town makes a May Pole, which is a big wooden pole that shows the different stores that are in the town. In my town, once a May Pole split in half. Schnitzel is a common German food as is bratwurst, which is a sausage-like hotdog. If you came and ate German food, you would never want to leave.

These are a few facts about Germany. Maybe one day you could come here and enjoy these things yourself.

I hope you now understand why living abroad is so cool, fun, fantastic, and awesome. Germany is just one of the places you could be stationed abroad. Living abroad may be full of challenges, but it is worth it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Making Friends, By Johnathan Shelton, Age 12

Because I am a military kid, I know I only have a certain amount of time to make friends. We usually move every three years, so I don't have time to wait. Making friends is easy for me. Every place my family lives, it usually takes me two or three days to make a friend. I usually ride around the area where we are living and try to find a kid that looks my age. I also sometimes hang out with my older brother's friends. The reason I jump right in and try to make friends is that sooner or later, the video games start to get to me.

The hard part about making friends in a military place is finding out how far away they are. Sometimes my friends move before I do. That is sort of hard because then I don't have as many friends left. It is also hard when I move and have to leave my friends behind. For example, when I left Tennessee, I left four friends. It made me feel sort of bad, but I knew I would get over it soon. I think I'm a very good friend because I will help you with problems.

I keep in touch with my friends through email. Sometimes we get to visit my friends in other places and it is always fun to see them. Because I am a military child, I get to meet people I wouldn't have met otherwise.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Happiness, Pain and Tears, By Natalie Herrera, Age 13

"The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." These words were spoken by a Chinese philosopher named Lao Tzu. The life of military children is hard in many ways, but as life goes on, one realizes that this is the life that they were born into and that this lifestyle will benefit them in many ways. This journey will include happiness, pain, and tears. These thousand miles can be the highlight of their lives. The most important way to tackle the journey is to take it one day at a time.

The love and happiness in a military family is so pleasant that I wish it could last forever. Whenever my military parent is coming home and has not been home in a long time, all I have to do is hear the words, "I am coming home today.” This feels like a great relief. It is such a beautiful feeling because I get to see the parent that I love so much. Another beautiful feeling is when I get to go out with my family and just have fun without worries. The joy of being in a military family shines when that military parent takes a vacation. Then they are 110 percent at home where I can play a game without worrying that it will be interrupted by a phone call or an email.

The best part about being in a military family is that I get so many amazing opportunities. For example, I get to go to a special school for military students only. This way I can interact with different kids who experience the same thing I do. It makes me feel that I am not alone in this journey.

But then devastating news comes up and takes away all that happiness and love. When I hear that a parent is going to be deployed to Iraq, Egypt, Afghanistan, Kosovo, or any other country around the world, emotions begin rushing throughout my body. During the time that I am without my parent that I love so dearly, I have to be brave and try to keep telling myself that he will be back soon. Also, another very painful thing to endure is when your parent is deployed again to another country.

One way of trying to cope with all the feelings going on is to just find a group of friends that you can relate to and go out from time to time and just have fun. One way to do this is to go to the movies once a month, go to the bowling alley, or have a sleepover. It is basically any social activity that will get your mind off all the other stuff happening so you can enjoy yourself. This will bring out the happiness you have stored away and make you want to have fun even if you know that your military parent is away.

The role of a military child is fairly simple even though it can be hard at times. All you really have to do as a military child is to have fun with the times you get to see your military parent. Have fun with your friends. Study hard to get a good career in life. Take responsibility when your parent is away. But most important of all, make your family proud. It takes a lot of guts to come up and be the person in the house which people will rely on to clean the house, cut the grass, cook dinner and so forth.

To be a military child is scary, but living day by day will take you on a tremendous journey. On that path you will be proud to say, "I am a military child and I am proud to be one.” That journey of a thousand miles will slowly fade into a path and then fade into the nothingness. Don't worry about what is ahead in life. Look at what is right in front of your face and go with the flow of the road that is taking you through life.


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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