Saturday, April 30, 2011

Living in a Military Family – Making Friends, By Tajiana Beard, Age 11

It was the end of the 2008 calendar and the middle of the school year. I was in a new community and felt scared walking into my new class. I knew nobody and had no friends. I kept telling myself not to be scared and that it will be okay. As the day went on, I made more friends and I wasn’t nervous anymore. I ended up having a nice teacher and great friends. I might have had a great school, but I just didn’t feel safe at home. I liked the house, but for some reason, at night time I just couldn’t sleep. I think it’s because I didn’t feel safe. I was just so used to my old house and my old room. For a while, I hardly slept at all. Sometimes I would just sleep on the couch.

Living in a new house wasn’t the worst challenge. The hardest thing was getting to know the people in my neighborhood. At first, everyone was staring at me and I could hear people giggle at me when I walked by. Now, I have lots of friends. I actually made friends really fast, but I was just so scared. I usually am not shy, but I didn’t know anybody. I started playing outside a lot and made lots of friends. I was still the new girl at school and everybody stared at me. I wanted to move back to my old school where everybody knew me.

This year, I had a new girl in my class. She was really quiet and I knew she felt like I had last year, so I started to talk to her. Her name is Payton, and now she’s one of my friends. When I met her, I knew I wasn’t the only one who has been the new girl who knew nobody.

Right now, everything’s fine with me. For example, I have lots of friends. However, when I move again, all of this is going to start all over. I do love moving, but I hate leaving my school because I usually leave in the middle of the school year. I totally hate the thought of leaving my friends because I will miss them so much. There is one thing that is good about moving. The good thing for me is getting to see all the different cultures because they’re so cool and different and unique. Right now, I live in Japan and I love it. It is so beautiful, especially the seawall, because the waves are so cool. I love swimming in the ocean because it feels so good. The hiking trails are so beautiful, too, because of the awesome view. This is the first country out of the United States that I have ever lived in and that I have ever even visited. It’s kind of weird that it’s the only country that I have been to because I am in a military family.

I love it in Japan, but I miss my family and friends back home so much. I still talk to my friends in Texas and my family in Nebraska almost every day. I either email them or I call them on my Vonage phone (that I love). They always ask me when I am coming back to Texas and I always have to tell them “not for a very long time.” It was really hard on me to leave all of my friends behind. I have lots of friends here, but I will always remember my friends in Texas and they will always have a special place in my heart and mind. When I move away from Okinawa, I will make sure to stay in touch with my friends because I want to remember them just like I remember my friends from Texas.

When I first moved here, the only place I really found to make friends was at the Kadena Youth Center. Most people were really nice there and I always had fun. I joined clubs and helped the community by picking up trash and by doing lots of different other things. Almost everyday after school, I would walk to the Youth Center with my friends and sometimes we would stop by the Non-Commissioned Officers’ Club on the way and get a snack. I really love going to the Youth Center because I could have fun and hang out with my friends. It was also great because my mom couldn’t pick me up after school, so I had somewhere to go and I didn’t have to be home alone.

Being in a Military family can be really hard, but when you have friends, it makes it way better. If I didn’t have friends, I don’t know what I would do. I am going to have to leave my friends, but I know that when I move again, there will be new people there, and most of all, there will be new friends and a chance to make many new memories.

Friday, April 22, 2011

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 email or writing letters. Do activities to take your mind off them. Or just make some new friends. Any way you choose to do it, 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. Military friends can also act like that. Don’t listen to them. Those people aren’t bad, just misinformed.

Some friend points are good, others are bad. That’s life, but you can help make friendships stronger. Stand up to those unfriendly 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 glad that they are in military families and get to be awesome military friends.

Friday, April 8, 2011

April is the Month of the Military Child - Hear from Shaquille O'Neal about his Military Childhood

In Shaq’s Words

Military Kids Speak: Your stepfather was in the Army. Who else was in your family growing up?

Shaq: My mom, one brother and four sisters. I was in the middle.

Military Kids Speak: Where did you live growing up?

Shaq: We lived in New Jersey, Georgia, West Germany, and Texas.

Military Kids Speak: Which place was your favorite and why?

Shaq: Wildflecken, West Germany, was my favorite. I liked adapting to the German culture, especially the food. There was a place called “The Shack” that served bratwurst, bread, and French fries that were my favorite things to eat. I worked mowing lawns or doing whatever I could to get five dollars so I could go to “The Shack” and eat bratwurst, bread, and French fries.

Military Kids Speak: Was it easy making new friends when you moved to a new place? If yes, what did you do that made it go well?

Shaq: Yes. It was hard for me to leave my friends each time we moved. It would be easier to maintain friendships now with technology like Facebook. We used to write letters to each other. But two guys writing to each other wasn’t cool, so that never lasted very long.

Military Kids Speak: How did you feel about the military lifestyle—deploying, relocating, making friends?

Shaq: It was fun. We got to move every four years. It prepared me for my professional basketball career.

Military Kids Speak: How do you think being a military kid built your character?

Shaq: It taught me discipline, honor, respect, and responsibility. It taught me how to deal with all kinds of people. I met my stepfather when I was two years old, and left home at age 18. Those were the most influential 16 years of my life. My stepfather raised me to be a man with a drill sergeant lifestyle. I am the military. I owe everything to my military upbringing. It made me the man and the athlete I am today.

Military Kids Speak: By what motto do you live that relates to or might inspire other military kids?

Shaq: Be leaders and not followers. Follow your dreams. Work hard. I practiced in the parks in Texas all the time, even in 110-degree temperatures and in the rain. I used to get dogged out by other kids for being so tall and not playing basketball well. I had a choice. I could have given up, but I chose to work harder. It built my character.

Military Kids Speak: What was the hardest challenge you had as a military kid and how did you handle it?

Shaq: I can’t think of any big challenges. I got a job at McDonald’s when I was young. My dad gave me the choice of babysitting for my younger brother and sisters or getting a job. Our mom had a job to help make ends meet. Even though I worked at McDonald’s, I still helped take care of my brother and sisters, being responsible for them and protecting them from bullies. I helped with chores like cleaning the house and cutting the grass, too.

Military Kids Speak: What did you learn as a military child that helped you become a superstar athlete?

Shaq: I learned how to be humble. Here’s a true story. When I was in high school, I was the first guy ever to get his name in the newspaper for a basketball game. I acted like I was God. Then, as I walked down the halls in school, everyone moved to the other side of the hall. When I sat down at a table to eat lunch, everyone moved away from me. I finally asked my friend what was going on. He said, “You’re too good for us now. But just remember. You can’t pass the ball to yourself, and you can’t make those big plays alone.”

Military Kids Speak: If you could tell military kids just one thing what would it be?

Shaq: Enjoy the experience. Take advantage of all of the opportunities you have being in a military family. Enjoy learning to deal with all kinds of people from every religion, race, and culture. All of the activities kept me out of trouble.

Read more from Shaquille O’Neal in Military Kids Speak. Essays by military kids and interviews with celebrity military kids like Shaquille O’Neal can be found in Military Kids Speak, Proceeds from sales of Military Kids Speak go to programs for military kids.


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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