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COMMENTARY: Eight pieces of advice to military kids

By Hayden Froehlich 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

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We’re put in a very unique position as the children of service members. From birth, we are part of their journey. One or both of our parents are leaders in this quest to protect our nation and aid the rest of the world. The quest requires us to move every few years to a new base where our parents learn new skills, help build up our defenses and stay on guard. On this mission, we are their companions and support team. We have a big job to do and as someone who’s been doing this job for 19 years, I’ve collected a few pieces of advice that can help make this journey easier, more enjoyable and more fulfilling.

Tip 1: Have fun while moving. It can certainly be a stressful time as your home gets packed up and you get ready to leave your friends. There are plenty of ways to make it a good experience. Packing up helps you discover long-lost toys or mementos. Once the house is empty, try throwing a dance party in the obstruction-free living room. Moving in can be stressful too, but make it fun by constructing cardboard box forts to fend off zombies, or fight dragons or dragon zombies. I would also advise inviting friends to these activities, either for a great send off or a way to get acquainted with new friends.

Tip 2: Purchase a bow compass. This little device that looks like a pair of legs lets cartographers create circles on maps. Print out a map of your new state or region and draw a circle extending one-hundred miles out from your home. Within this circle, I guarantee you will find dozens of fascinating places to visit during your stay. Each base puts you in a new part of our diverse country or a different country entirely. Do your best to make the most of it. 

Tip 3: Check out the on-base entertainment. Each base is its own small community with a shopping market, variety store and plenty of entertainment. They almost always have fun bowling alleys, cozy libraries and heat-beating pools. I highly recommend exploring the youth center. I’ve had amazing experiences there playing in the gyms, participating in cooking classes and the Missoula Children’s Theater or playing video and tabletop games with friends. These are all great ways to help with the next tip.

Tip 4: Make friends quickly. On average, you only have three years before the next move, so don’t be shy. The other kids on base are in the same temporary boat as you and will happily welcome new sailors to their crews. One of the fastest ways I’ve found to assemble a friend squad is with some late-night hide-and-go-seek or a good bike race.

Tip 5: Stay in contact with good friends. When you find those friends who click deeply with you make sure to stay connected. With modern technology, this is becoming easier and more varied. My little siblings still love mining and crafting online with a friend they made in Texas and my sister has maintained her romantic relationship through video chat and social media. Use the resources that work best for you and your pen pal, you may get to see them again!

Tip 6: Enjoy time with your parents. Working in the military is demanding and the same goes for being a military spouse. When your parents get home from work, make them feel welcomed and loved. Have fun playing cards, video games or sports with them. Or just spend a relaxing evening watching movies. I guarantee that they’ll appreciate it.

Tip 7: Learn about your parent’s mission. In layman’s terms, working in the military is extremely cool. Your parents take pride in their work, so try to learn about some of their duties. Some of them fly helicopters. Some of them build bombs. Some of them can fire machine guns. Some of them can heal gunshot wounds. Find out what kinds of cool things your parents do, and you’ll take pride in them too.

Tip 8: Remember why they do this. Being a military kid is not easy by any means. It’s tough moving around the country, living on strictly secured facilities, and most all, dealing with the deployments. I know from experience how difficult it is to be without a parent for months at a time and know they might be in danger, but when confronting these struggles just remember why your parents are doing this. They work night and day to make sure our country is safe from all threats. They work to bring peace and freedom to the rest of the world. They work because they want to protect you and your family. Remembering this always makes me swell with pride and gratitude. I’m sure it can do the same for you.

I hope these bits of advice will help you on your adventure through the military world. They’ve certainly been helpful to me. Remember, to make this journey successful, you need to be flexible, resourceful, adaptable and stay positive. Once your journey with the military comes to an end, you’ll be ready to face any challenge with those same skills.