For decades, the armed forces have called on people to serve this great nation, and throughout that time, their children have served right alongside them. In honor of their courage and support, then-Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger designated each April as the Month of the Military Child in 1986.
Before Weinberger’s proclamation however, it was assumed that these children were no different than any other civilian child.
To someone unfamiliar with the military life style, the contribution that these children provide to their parents can easily go unnoticed. Still, frequent moves, new schools, rotating friendships and family separations and reintegrations throughout deployments often result in challenges that most civilian children would never experience.
It is these challenges that set military children apart from the rest. Along with their typical child-like activities, many of them have had to put on a “game face” for a sibling, reassure their parents that all is well when it may not be, take on extra household responsibilities or maintain high spirits during holidays or birthdays without a parent.
According to the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University, more than 1.7 million American children under the age of 18 have at least one parent serving in the military. It is estimated the Army has more than 900,000 military children with one or both parents having deployed multiple times.
During a 2012 speech for military children in Jacksonville, Fla., First Lady Michelle Obama said, “By working so hard … you give your parents the peace of mind they need to focus on their mission. With your service, you make their service possible. And for that, we can’t thank you enough.”