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Patriotic Article

By USMC LCpl. Courtney White

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Military Child Woes
(November 7, 2010)

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Bryson Couch, 2-year-old son of a Fightertown Marine, looks at a photo of his father while sitting at home, Oct. 13, 2010.
Bryson Couch, 2-year-old son of a Fightertown Marine, looks at a photo of his father while sitting at home, Oct. 13, 2010.
  MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. -- Service members sacrifice time with their families to endure frequent moves, various deployments and long separations to ensure America remains safe, but the military child also sacrifices for their country.

Military children grow up without seeing their mother or father during some of the most crucial years of their life. They have to go through moving every so many years and breaking off young relationships with others.

“It can be kind of exciting to move and meet new friends,” said Jakob Knight, the 9-year-old son of a Fightertown Marine. “But at the same time it is hard to get used to the new school rules and changes.”

Sometimes it is hard for children to understand why their parents are away. The Air Station's Marine Corps Family Team Building offers various programs to help military children understand why their parents have to do what they do and how to fit in the military community.

“It is tough being a military child because sometimes [military parents] go away on ships and you don't get to see them,” said Elizabeth Knight, the 7-year-old daughter of a Fightertown Marine who was born while her father was deployed and has since experienced two more deployments. “Even though my dad is away a lot, I'm still proud and understand why he has to be gone.”

Sometimes families have to get creative while they are separated to keep in contact, said Nicole Bright-Hardee, an Air Station
readiness and deployment support trainer. 
“We are bit of a cheesy family,” admitted Erin Knight, wife of a Fightertown Marine. “While my husband is away he writes stories for our children and leaves spaces for them to draw in the pictures, we mark where he's at on the map and sometimes he would even keep in contact with our children while he was away through kid programs on the internet.”

No matter how creative a family is, nothing will make up for the missing parent, according to Bright-Hardee. Families should make an effort to stick together and stay connected with them so it is not as complicated to connect when they return.

“When my dad comes back I feel like I don't know him because I get used to him being away,” Elizabeth said. “I am usually shy at first when he comes back home, but I get used to him being back.”

Children who live on base or are around other military children are able to fit in more because they know what each other experience.

“My children's friends think of it as normal that their father is away for long periods of time because their family goes through the same thing,” Erin said.

Some children act up or express their feelings negatively. The Marine Corps Family Team Building offers various programs that allow military children to express those feelings positively through making crafts for their deployed parent, networking with other children and channeling their emotions in a healthy manner.

“Our resources (that MCFTB offers) are only beneficial if families choose to take them,” Bright-Hardee said. “Our goal is to help our children thrive in this military community and give them hope.” 
Article and photo by USMC LCpl. Courtney White
Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort
Copyright 2010

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