Updated: Oct 10, 2020
In going through my school email, I came across an essay contest for military teens. It was your regular essay/artwork contest, sponsored by DODEA, and it was open to all grades. However, the thing that caught my eye was the provided prompt: “Why I Love Being a Military Child.” I thought to myself, what kind of crap is this? To make a kid look at a huge aspect of their lives that often rips them away from their home and/or forces them to say good-bye to their parents and their caretakers for a given period, and then write an essay or draw a picture about what they love about it? That’s just ignorance.
Then I started to think about what that prompt meant to me. There are plenty of reasons to hate being a military kid. The more obvious, being the moves and the deployments, and the unspoken things, such as the effect it has on our mental health. We can all relate to those. But what is there to love about military life? Moving all across the world to places you’ve never been before. Vacationing in China (before COVID-19 of course), of all places, instead of going back to the states for the summer because the plane tickets are cheaper. You have amazing opportunities to live overseas, such as multiple Far East and Global Exchange programs.
The reason that I love being a military kid is the sense of community all military kids share. I love the ability we have to instantly make a friend because we don’t know how long we will be staying in one place; we find someone with one common interest and latch onto them. When you are a military kid you learn to make life-long friends fast. Within a week of knowing my brother’s best friend, my mother had already put his parents down as his emergency contact after moving to Nevada. That is why I love being a military child. I love the sense of community and togetherness that all military families share. I love how you can make a friend out of a military kid and instantly become closer than family to each other.
The community of a military base and a normal town is very different. One of the major differences is that the military base is constantly moving. It’s like when you fast forward a TV show to get to a certain point. The screen just flies by scenes of people living their lives. In a civilian town, things often standstill, like you’ve paused the show. Everybody knows each other and are still living their lives just at a somewhat slower pace. The kids there aren’t as desperate to find friends, and they don’t worry about when their next move is. They just instantly know each other. The military base is the opposite of that, but on the military base, we know what each person is going through. We can all relate to the struggle of moving to a place you know nothing about and having to go to a new school where you don’t recognize any faces. Every single military kid knows that struggle, and that is what creates that sense of togetherness and community. That aspect of military life is why I love being a military child.