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What Americans Must Never Forget About Military Kids

By Operation Homefront

April 30, 2015

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Air Force Staff Sgt. Story Parsons surprised her son Caleb Parsons, 2015 Coast Guard Child of the Year, with an unexpected return from Qatar. Caleb had been caring for his younger siblings while both parents were deployed.

Their success comes at a cost. As we come to the close of this year’s Month of the Military Child, and reflect upon the amazing young men and women we honor through our Military Child of the Year® Awards, that is what we must not forget.

We were reminded of this when we saw the look on the face of Caleb Parsons, 2015 Coast Guard Child of the Year, and his brothers and sister, when they saw their mom, Air Force Staff Sgt. Story Parsons. The joy, yes, but the relief and the gift of being just a kid again in the arms of mom.

One perfect moment in time. There are no to do lists, no countdowns, no worries…just now. Just the moment. And it was a short moment, as Staff Sgt. Parsons had less than 24 hours with her family and then she had to fly back to Qatar. Tears of joy turned quickly to tears of sadness, again. It comes with the territory, when one chooses to serve their country. The whole family serves too.

Via NBC Washington: West Point-bound Caleb Parsons was named Military Child of the Year for raising his younger siblings while his parents were both deployed. Kristin Wright reports from the award ceremony, where Caleb’s mother made a surprise return from Qatar.

Those kind of moments are one of the hardest sacrifices of being a military kid.The majority of the estimated 1.88 [1]million military children will experience that moment at least once. Some more than once. Some, a lot more than once. And some will never experience it again.

So while it is always great to see homecoming videos and surprises go viral, and join in the joy of the moment, it is important to remember that this moment is often coming at the end of a very long journey. A journey lasting six months, 12 months or more, with tears, and moments of fear and doubt and frustrations. Questioning of the fairness of it all.

Acknowledging these struggles is important because while we celebrate the extraordinary achievement of some military children in the face of adversity, we must always be aware that there are many who need our support to get through it. Anxiety, depression, trouble focusing, trouble sleeping are all challenges commonly reported by children of deployed military. Ensuring they have the resources they need to succeed is of paramount importance to the military community. The challenges and obstacles faced by the children of our military families are considerable and diverse. But working together, we can make a difference.

calebhug2At Operation Homefront, we understand that resiliency and stability often begins at home. If there are financial and other worries, it only creates a steeper hill to climb for the children. So we focus on strengthening foundations with our emergency financial and morale programs, such as our upcoming 10th annual Back-to-School Brigade. But there is more to be done, and you can help.

We’re certainly not alone in doing our part to support military kids and families. Right now, our friends at Blue Star Families are asking for input from military families on the issues that have the most impact on them. Share this link to their survey with every military family you know so their voice can be heard. The National Military Family Association is also a powerful voice for the broad issues impacting military families. The Military Child Education Coalition focuses on advocacy and outreach to ensure inclusive, quality educational opportunities for all military-connected children.

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