At the Military Children's Six Foundation , the majority of our staff, and volunteers has a personal connection to the military. Whether they have served themselves, grown up in a military household, or have a family member who serves, almost everyone has a connection to service.
The best phrase to summarize growing up as a Military Child is that it’s complicated. It’s true- the constant moving, switching schools and friend groups can be a challenge and hard to navigate, especially at a young age. One of the most complicated and dreaded questions is “Where are you from?”
In a passing conversation, you don’t want to list out the laundry list of places you’ve lived, says Emma Atherall. You just want to be seen as “normal.” One of the perks of living on base or port is that everyone goes through the same thing. However, when you live in the civilian community, there isn't the same understanding and it adds another level of difficulty. I often remember my classmates asking, “What does your dad do?” and my response was “He’s in the Marines,” says Atherall. Going to a school where not everyone’s parents served, no one knew what that meant. And asking a 3rd or 4th grader to try and define that was complicated to say the least.
Pictured: Colonel Bedrin and Captain Gloria Bedrin
Although the military lifestyle can be challenging, all military children would agree the exposure to different cultures and communities has positively impacted their lives. Not many people can say they’ve lived in different states and countries all before they were the legal age of 18.
“As an adult I am really grateful for my childhood. I've seen more and experienced more things than a lot of adults have,” says Gloria Bedrin. “I love to travel and try new things, and I owe all of that to being a Mil Kid.” Developing an open mindset at such a young age, helps not only in everyday life but in understanding different viewpoints and how to adapt to people who may not necessarily believe in or act like you. Being a military child has allowed all of us to see the world in such different lights, ultimately shaping who we are today.
Pictured: Major Atherall, Dr. Tina Atherall, and their four kids: MacKenna, Emma, Joey, and Will
The final question in our poll was “What piece of advice would you give today’s military children?”. A common response was to stay positive, utilize all the resources available and know that one day you’ll be grateful to have had this experience.
“The Milkid experience is the adventure of a lifetime; you‘ll have the most unique experiences and make some of your best friends throughout that time in your life,” says Neely O’Grady. Rather than fighting military moves with anger and resentment, trying to embrace the current moment, and acknowledging that it’ll only be temporary, can make the hard days easier. Especially in the era of Facetime and Zoom, you can stay connected with those friends you may be leaving. Putting in the extra effort to schedule a time to call or play video games virtually may help more than you think. Try new things and don’t be afraid to reach out for help!