April is celebrated each year as the Month of the Military Child. Since 1986, the Department of Defense has designated the month of April to recognize the service, sacrifices and special qualities of military children.
During April, the Department of Defense Education Activity encourages schools on military installations to focus on the qualities and needs of military children.
In addition to special events to honor military children, the DoDEA asks administrators and principals to incorporate the theme into their everyday duties and responsibilities during the Month of the Military Child.
Some military children live on military installations in the U.S. or abroad. Other military children live in cities, suburbs or rural communities.
Military children endure frequent moves, new schools, loss of friends, parental separation, life changes and the stress of a parent's deployment.
An old saying in the military that addresses families is, "If the military wanted you to have a family, it would have issued you one."
Military members work long hours and are on-call at all times. Unlike civilian families, weekends and holidays don't always mean family time for military families.
Young children, children with mental or physical health problems, children who don't live near military communities, children of deployed military members and children whose parents serve in reserve units or the National Guard face more challenges than other military children, according to The National Child Traumatic Stress Network.
Unlike their civilian counterparts, military children grow up in a world of uncertainty, never knowing when it will be time to move again or when a parent will be deployed.
Military children may also face the challenge of dealing with a parent whose life has overwhelmingly changed due to traumatic physical injuries or mental trauma sustained during deployment.
Most military children don't live near grandparents and other extended family members, who often provide an additional support system for children of civilian parents.
As we celebrate the Month of the Military Child, here are some facts you may not know about military children, the challenges they face and the strength and resilience they embrace and display.
Over two million military children have experienced the deployment of a parent since 2001. The extended and repeated separations from their parent add stress to the lives of military children.
School-age Military Children
School-age military children may struggle with anxiety, worrying and crying when a parent is deployed. Although some military children live in military communities, nearly 80 percent of military children attend public schools in the United States.
Homecomings are Sweet
Military children of all ages suffer when a parent is deployed. Although homecomings are sweet, young military children may not remember their parent or may meet their parent for the first time as toddlers. Family reunification isn't always easy after deployment.
Military Children Face Uncertainty
Military children face daily stress and uncertainty including a parent's deployment, not knowing when or if the parent will return home, frequent moves and loss of friends. Military children may also have fewer family members nearby for support.
Dealing with Death
Military children are resilient and display strength and courage. Military children face the possibility of a parent's death. The support of family and friends helps military children who are grieving the loss of a parent; however, the death of a parent also means more changes in the child's life.