Friday, September 24, 2010

Military Kids Speak, By Lauriliz Mulero, Age 13

I, as a military child, have experienced and suffered from my dad's deployments three times. Experiencing this is not easy because no one wants a father to be away. Feelings that I did not think I had just came out of me and I realized that I missed him. The feeling most likely to be found in a military family is sadness. Sadness is not a good feeling because it could lead to depression. I want people to listen to what I have to say and realize what military children go through.

Let me start talking about feelings. People have a lot of feelings. For example, they can feel love, anger, happiness, anxiety, and depression. Military families have all these feelings. In my family, sadness and anxiety covers us like a blanket. Let me talk about sadness. Of course, I could get fat for many reasons, but when my father is leaving for a year, I deal with something else. I need to enjoy that last day with my dad. When my dad is deployed, I feel like I need to prepare myself to take on new responsibilities and become mature and have more courage. But I also hope that his assignment for a year would go by as fast as the wind blows and he would be home.

Right now, anxiety is the most ominous feeling that my family has. I can get anxious for many reasons, like waiting for something special, like birthdays, and other things. But in the case of my mom and me, it is different because we are also anxious and waiting for my father to come back home to be with us. In the past, I have experienced that the day before my dad ended his assignment. A way that I got my head away from thinking about this situation was by reading a book or listening to music. I tried to entertain myself to distract my mind.

One change that exists at our home while my father is deployed has to do with family communication. Unfortunately, this is a situation I'm dealing with now. My mom and I are very good examples of a lack of communication. I know that it is my fault. She is always trying to communicate with me, but I turn away and make her feel bad. I know she misses daddy a lot. Communication is very important in the family, so I really do not want to make the same mistake again. When parents want to talk, we just have to listen to them.

While my dad was deployed, I thought about his safety. I have learned not to think negatively. I think about him being okay and that is what matters. While my dad is deployed, I have to make some changes in my life. I have to become braver, stop being lazy, and take on new responsibilities. I have to learn to be strong about the things that I deal with so I start to think about the future. By thinking about the future, I focus on what my emotions will be when he comes back. That is what I did four years ago when I did not know if dad would return.

During my dad's first assignment, my mom joined the Family Readiness Group. There, they had activities for kids and orientations, too. There, I met kids that understood what I was going through. I was a child that did not understand what she felt about her dad's deployment. But with time, I matured and understood how to support my dad. Then I entered the deployed students’ group at school which helped a lot. I met students and friends that understood what I was going through. We also have field trips and activities to help me deal with my situation.

Having my dad deployed has taught me what to do and where to get help. The counselors at school are always there for me. Whenever I have a problem, I go to them and even if it is a love problem, they help me 24/7. Believe me, if you have a problem big or small, go to the counselors and they will help you a lot.

I dream. I dream, and every day I dream about the day my father returns from his assignment. I dream about everything going back to normal. I dream about happiness and all the wonderful experiences my family has gone through. I dream about my father returning home safely. This is my life as a military child, and I will continue to dream.

Friday, September 17, 2010

School, By Breann Barnes, Age 11

Being in a military family is not ordinary. You have to move around from city to city, school to school and house to house. Many different things happen when you are in a military family and changing schools is only one of those things. I go to school overseas in Sigonella, Italy. School overseas has its ups and downs, but knowing that you can say I lived in Italy or Guam or Japan is a once and a lifetime chance. The military schools overseas are great. They have nice teachers, nice looking classrooms, and a lot of the time, good students attend them.

I truly do not have a hard time making friends, but it is different for everyone. Sometimes it can take people three weeks or two days to make and meet new friends. Sometimes leaving the friends you made is hard, too. If you become best friends with someone and he or she has to leave, you feel emotional. One thing you learn being a military child is that friends come and go all the time. Now we have new ways to keep in touch such as email, Internet and telephone. Sometimes it can be easy or hard to leave or make new friends, but you just have to be flexible.

Teachers overseas are very nice and helpful and understand what it is like being in a school overseas. Coming to Italy and attending middle school was hard for me because it was my first time having different periods in the day. We also have an A day and B day schedule and many people have favorite days. Each school has its advantages. Being a military kid, I feel we go through troubles that may seem easy to a non-military kid like getting lost in the school or having different teachers and having to switch subjects and learn new material in classes. But I don't want you to think it is all a downer living overseas, because it is not. For example, when you live overseas, it is a once in a life time chance because if you think about it, not many kids can live overseas. We are the lucky ones because our mom or dad got this opportunity and it opened new doors for all families; doors to an overseas education that will be remembered forever.

The hardest adjustment is that certain schools teach different materials and have a different focus. In California, for example, reading was very important. In Washington, it was not as important. Math was the hardest adjustment of all because I started in California and when I went to Washington, the math was totally different. My grade in math kept going down lower and lower each day. The teachers would tell me that I should know what we were doing because I should have learned it the years before. I was not there so I did not learn it. They would try to explain and they would believe me, but they can't do too much except teach me.

Overseas some schools will go on field trips and so you could be living in Europe to explore Europe. How many kids can say that they went to school in Europe and they went on a field trip in Europe? Military kids learn a lot in school, but because they do have to move a lot, they learn about courage, responsibility and much more. Kids that are not in the military learn about that as well, but we have the chance to learn it faster and more often.

School is really different overseas because I never had pep rallies or football games when I lived in the United States. Overseas, we have a running club, football, baseball, and soccer teams. There are a lot more school activities and class choices for students to choose from. You can choose to play band, or learn Italian or another foreign language. The schools overseas are a lot smaller compared to when I lived in California. In California, I had over 1,000 kids in my grade school alone. Now there are about 300 kids in grades K-12 so that is a big difference.

Since the school is so small, my classes are smaller and teachers pay more attention to the students. The teachers get to know you and your personality so their expectations are high. Most of the kids at the school are well-behaved, because the teachers know the students well. That is a great advantage for the teachers.

School is difficult, but every time I come across a bump in the road, I always will remind myself living here is a once and a lifetime chance.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Swimming Across the World, By Greta Kinsey, Age 11

I am a military child, but that does not stop me from practicing and enjoying the sport that I love: swimming. I have been in over 30 pools around the world. Some of them, I have been in 200 times, and some only once.

I have moved my whole life. By the age of ten, I was settled into my eighth house. Moving is so much a part of my life, it is normal. I am in the sixth grade and I am in my eighth school. I guess I don't really mind all the moving as long as my new place I call home has a pool and a swim team.

I learned to swim in Alexandria, Virginia. My sister, Halladay, and I were both born in Alexandria. Before my third birthday, we moved to my third house and found a pool in Indian Head, Maryland. My favorite aunt, Aunt Lucy has a house with a pool in Frederick, Maryland. She is my favorite for many reasons, but the pool helps. My second sister, Annika, joined us when we lived in Maryland. She, like Halladay and me, was a water baby. I remember Monterey, California, because there was a pool with a water slide. I learned to love to slide into the water in Monterey, even though we were only there a few months before we moved to Sicily, Italy.

Sicily, Italy is very hot in the summer. Life in Sicily in the summer must include a pool or you will never enjoy the outside. It was in Sicily that I learned how to swim and joined my first competitive swim team.

In Sicily, when we first arrived, there was an old pool with a twirl-ly waterslide. It was very fun, but old and dirty. Soon, the construction of another pool attracted everyone's attention. My dad was the engineer in charge of building it.

After the new pool was finished, my sisters and I were the slide testers. Plenty of workers had tried the two new slides, but the engineers needed to know how far little kids would glide across the water at the end of the slide. My sisters and I, ages seven, five and three, were all strong swimmers, so we tested the slides! We were happy to be the first kids on the new slides.

During our time in Sicily, we met many Italian friends. Most of them have pools at their villas. We were invited to Sicilian pool parties. I remember Italian towns and places I've been by the pools I swam in.

In Sicily, I joined the Sigonella Swordfish, the base swim team. We swam in all home meets that year and even qualified to swim in our first European Championship meet. My sister, Halladay, and I traveled to our first away championship swim meet. That was my first time in a 50-meter pool. My sister and I were both afraid; 50 meters looks like forever if you are seven or five years old. We both swam faster than ever before.

Right after I turned eight, we moved to California. I continued to swim with my sisters. My youngest sister, Annika, who was now five years old, joined us on the Buenaventura Swim Club in Camarillo, California. During the time we lived in California, we raced and played in many pools and on many beaches in Southern California. I remember the towns and cities in California by the memory of the pool or the beach. I even raced in my first triathlons in California. One was in a pool in Santa Barbara. The other one was in a lake in Los Angeles. I remember everything about those races, especially the swims.

It was after the second triathlon that we learned we were moving back to Sicily. Back in Sicily, we gladly re-joined our first swim team, the Sigonella Swordfish. This time, my sisters and I were all older so we were able to travel to England, Germany and the Italian cities of Aviano, Lignano, Vicenza, Catania and Naples for swim meets. I remember the European trips we took by recalling the pool I raced in just before we took off to see the sights, like London, Cambridge, Venice, Pompeii, the Italian Dolomites, German Christmas markets, and the city of Berlin.

My daily schedule in all places is the same. I go to school. I go to swim practice. I eat dinner with my family. I do my homework and I go to sleep. My daily schedule is comforting for me because it is generally the same no matter where I live. I know what to expect. In Europe, I have to travel very far to compete for meets, but I see so many things along the way, it is worth the trip. I have traveled to Naples, Italy, more times than I'd like to recall. I have traveled by car, plane, train (that boards a ferry) and by overnight ferry. I always enjoy the trip regardless of the method of travel and I always look forward to swimming as fast as I can.

Next month, I will travel to Eindhoven in the Netherlands for my third European Champs. I am excited to swim fast and am excited about the family trip in Bruges in the days after the meet. I love the Navy and all the moves, because I travel to places all around the world to do what I traveled there for: to swim.


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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