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April was the Month of the Military Child

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"'Army Brats' are a very special breed and have close ties to each other. Nobody knows what it is like to have to move every three years all over the world never to grow roots. If you are lucky, you happen to see one of your classmates more than once at one of your Dad's assigned posts. But, you are told to make friends quickly, enjoy them while you are together and look forward to the new ones you will meet”: Joyce E. M., Class of 1963, Fort Knox High School

Yes, April was Month of the Military Child (MOMC). And as a 1963 graduate of Fort Knox High School (FKHS), Ky., I am proud to be one of that prestigious group of people.

My father was a “lifer” in the Air Force. I had an interesting time of growing up because my mother fell in the bathtub when I was in the 2nd Grade. Over the years since then, I was forced to live with relatives whenever she was in the hospital. In those days, dad had to work and no one was available to take care of us kids (my sister and I) and there was no such thing as a nanny or any other type of caretaker to watch us kids. As a result, I had 16 school moves in 12 years. But by the time I was in the middle of my 10th Grade, we moved to Fort Knox, Ky, and I finally enrolled in my last school and graduated from FKHS.

All of my fellow classmates had somewhat similar circumstances and experiences. Some fathers were like mine and others were transferred overseas where their kids were lucky enough to attend schools in Europe. Very few spent their entire four years in high school at Fort Knox. And a few others transferred to other schools in their junior or senior year in high school.

But the one thing that connected us all together was FKHS. And we stayed connected. However, after our 25th Class Reunion, we realized that Fort Knox had changed too much for us, but we had not. We quickly came to the conclusion that reunions were more about people; not the places of our youth at Fort Knox, where we worked, played and went to school. After that, our reunions were held whenever one or more of our classmates decided to host one.

We also realized that most of us and our siblings had hung around with and dated kids from other classes. As a result, we added other classes to our reunions in addition to our Class of 1963, so we now call ourselves the “Fort Knox Classes of the 60s (1960-1969)". And we've had our reunions all over the country ever since.

At one of our reunions, a classmate summed it all up quite nicely by saying to the effect, reunions are about two things: renewing old friendships and meeting friends you didn't know you had. I found this to be true for me since I was in the band and didn't really hang around with many of my classmates. But I have since found new friends at at each of our reunions.

Things are not that simple in the 21st Century where multiple deployments are commonplace which means there is a new normal now for most military brats. Month of the Military Child reports that the number of moves a military family experiences now hasn't changed much: it's still about “every 2.9 years.” That averages out to about four moves for most students from the 1st Grade through the 12th Grade and high school graduation.

MOMC also reports that there are 1.4 million active duty members. Indeed, there are more parents in the military than ever before in its history. Nearly half (47%) is a mom or dad. And Military Officers Association of America reports
that “1.9 million military children are 0-18; 1.1 million are school-aged (5-18) and come from all branches of service; and 75% of active duty military kids are under 12.”

Our recommendation to these current military brats is this: keep in touch with your fellow classmates as we did because all of you have the same background. And all y'all have treasured memories that few “civilians” will ever have. And you will find it hard to forget your 25th Class Reunion and even perhaps your 50th, as we had just one year ago in North Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Bottom line? I couldn't agree more with Gordon K. (1963) when he said, “I can say that being a military child helped me in my life. I would not trade my life for another.”

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Other quotes from my fellow FKHS classmates:

“As a dependent of a soldier, you had to remember that your personal conduct on a military base could reflect on your father's career should you do something wrong or stupid. The responsibility of that situation developed responsible thinking on what I was about to do and what that action could have on my father's career. Think before you act”: Ken C. (1961)

“My Mother and Father always were positive about moves, understanding when I was sad over leaving friends, but never let on that it bothered them. It was my Dad's job and his family was expected to follow orders just like him. It was a fantastic experience with lots of unique opportunities, but we missed growing up in one neighborhood with our friends and relatives”: Joyce E. M. (1963)

“It was tough for us kids when you moved around so much but the experience was priceless”: Tom W. (1963)

“Growing up in the Army was a great adventure. I lived and traveled in places others could only dream of. In contrast, growing up surrounded with family and life long friends was something I could only dream of”: Linda R.H. (1961)

“Growing up in a military family and moving frequently, made me make friends fast, but lose them fast too. One day my “best friend” lived next door and the next day he had moved 5,000 miles away and I never saw him again. (somewhat similar to my military experience in boot camp and AIT). I loved the adventure of crossing the US by train and the Atlantic ocean by ship, but I dreaded having to “catch-up” in each new class room”: Jerry D. (1965)

“Having to totally relocate every three years required the ability to meet new people and make new friends frequently. I feel comfortable today as an adult in meeting new people and developing new relationships. That helped as a professional my role as a Human Resources Manager”: Ken C.(1961)

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