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Voting as a Military Teen: The Beginning of a New Chapter in My Life

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to vote for the first time in my state’s primary. While this is a significant event in many people’s lives, it was even more special for me. This comes from one specific part of my life: my experiences as a military teen. It also signals a chapter of my life coming to an end.

When I talk about voting being important to me, as well as with many other military teens, many civilians assume that it’s because of our love for our country. The primary purpose of our parents’ job is to defend the Constitution from all threats foreign and domestic, after all. However, even though this is part of it, it is not the main reason why voting in this year’s primary was so important to me. It’s rooted in how I now have the chance to do something that no one outside of our unique community can say they can do: playing a role in choosing their parent’s boss.

Throughout my life, I’ve lived in many different places, with each one giving me a unique perspective on life. I’ve been thankful to call Virginia my home for the longest out of anywhere else. Living here, especially because we live in Northern Virginia, which is in the DC metro, has shaped me immensely. A major part of this is how I feel the government has been humanized. Most of my friend's parents are employed by the federal government, with many having some connection to the DoD.

Even though my friends' parent’s employment may be great, an even bigger part of living here is how it's shown me the impact military teens have on the area. I’ve been able to see military teens, especially those associated with Bloom, working extremely hard to create change for my community. I’ve also seen how the adults in my life stay connected to their military background. Whether it’s teachers having a purple star on their door signaling they have some connection with the military or meeting random people who grew up in military families, it shows me how people don’t lose their connection to the military after becoming adults.

As I’ve seen my current chapter of my life come to an end throughout the second semester of my senior year of high school, this has been incredibly encouraging. It’s shown me that I won’t lose my connection to the military as soon as I go off to college and that I have some agency over my life. On the other hand, it's shown me that growing up enables me to use my experiences in a different but equally, if not more important, way.

One of these ways is voting. This simple event acts as a symbol, showing a change in my life. It shows how I’m slowly transitioning out of the military lifestyle while gaining a different form of experience. It’s also symbolic to me because the only reason I can vote at my age is because of our involvement in the Vietnam War. This example of military involvement shows how even after I am no longer part of a military family, I will never truly be separated from it.


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