Almost two weeks ago, Russia invaded Ukraine. Since then, war has broken out, with citizens fighting in the streets, anti-war protestors being arrested by the Russian government, and over a million refugees fleeing to other countries.
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is affecting people around the world, but it hits close to home for those of us in the military community. After all, the U.S. is deploying many units to Europe in the event of conflict in NATO countries. Two Bloom leaders, Catherine and Elena, share their thoughts on the situation below.
BLOOM Director of Human Resources and Blog Editor
For many, war may feel far away; a distant problem that really doesn’t involve or impact them. As military kids, we are as close as one can be to war without being on the battlefield. War keeps our parents working. War is the center of our lives, whether we are in active war or preparing for a war that hasn’t even begun. We were born into war. Every single military child alive today was born into a United States that had boots on the ground somewhere in the world. But those wars aren’t ours.
Not a single American military child has ever had to face war on their own soil. We have never had to wake up to air raid sirens or meet our brand-new sibling in the basement of a hospital. The physical aspects of war have never touched our bodies.
Right now, there are Ukrainian children of all ages being thrown into a position we have held our entire lives: military child. Children whose parents were once plumbers, scientists, teachers, have answered the call of duty to protect a nation from falling to the evil plot of a dictator. For them, every feeling that we have felt, loss, grief, fear, anxiety, has been amplified by hundreds. Ukrainian children have to deal with the possibility of the collapse of their freedom and democracy, the death of their parents (and, of course, other family members) at the hands of Russian armed forces, the erasure of their culture, and are watching the pulverization of their country first-hand. Over one million Ukrainians have had to leave their country, something many military brats are well-acquainted with. But this time, they don’t know if they will return, or, if they do go home, what they will come back to.
BLOOM Founder and Director
Every time I log onto social media, my timeline is flooded with information about the situation in Ukraine.
Although it’s extremely important to stay informed on the conflict, it is really easy to get overwhelmed. Almost every day, I have to turn off my phone because being bombarded with pictures, stories, and information about the war is difficult for me to handle.
War is such a sensitive and complicated topic for military kids. My entire life I’ve had some level of war-based anxiety. When I was younger, I often experienced panic attacks related to the US conflict in the Middle East. I would lie awake at night, petrified with the fear that the people I loved would perish.
I also grappled with my parent’s involvement in war. Someone I loved (very very much) was contributing (in some way) to the loss of human life in conflict. As a young child (and even now, as a legal adult), it is such a messy and difficult process trying to understand war and your parent’s part in it. It’s definitely not the most fun thing to think about, and it also gave me extreme anxiety attempting to sort through the depths of those truths.
As I have been following the conflict in Ukraine, many similar feelings have arisen once again. As military kids, our parents will be the first Americans to fight if the US chooses to get involved, and the constant talk of impending global conflict is worrying. It’s bringing back a lot of those war anxieties that have been present throughout my life as a military kid, and it’s exhausting trying to control them.
If you’re feeling these same things as you scroll on social media or keep up with the news, I want you to remember that it’s ok to not be in the right headspace to deal with reading about the war. Prioritizing your well-being should always come first, so take some time away from the news. Just because you need to take a moment to step away and breathe does not make your support any less important or powerful.
As a military kid, as a European and American citizen, and as a lover of democracy and independence, I stand with and applaud the efforts of the Ukrainian citizens fighting for their freedom. My heart goes out to the families who have left behind loved ones to fight, especially the children.
Hundreds upon hundreds of Ukrainian children have been suddenly thrown into the lifestyle in which so many of us brats have grown up, except their situation is far more dire. They are fearing for their parent’s safety and not knowing whether they will return. We know what that fear is like, and it is our duty to uplift them and support them during this tragedy as a global military teen community. As Catherine said, we are very privileged to not have experienced war on American soil, but it is crucial we use our privilege of peace to help our brothers and sisters from Ukraine.