Honor military children every day

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Laura Wilkes
  • Air Force Recruiting Service, Development and Training Flight
April comes from the Latin word "aperire," which means "to open," so it is with little wonder that this month heralds the beginning of spring all across the northern hemisphere. Trees begin to bud, flowers bloom and the world changes from dingy brown to green and new while celebrations take place to honor foolish antics (April Fools' Day), the return of seasonal fowl (Cuckoo and Swallow Days) and the Easter season.

While all of these events are unique and special, in the military we celebrate this rebirth by honoring the most precious of our assets: the military child.

In 2001, former Department of Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger established the Month of the Military Child as his legacy to the National Military Family Association's estimated 1.9 million children of military members across the services. Since that time, countless programs have been developed to recognize them with activities and events geared to remind us that they are not only special, but also very different from their civilian counterparts.

Military children are born into lives peppered with chaos and uncertainty, filled with constant transition in the form of numerous moves, separations from their loved ones and never ending change. In most cases, by the time they complete grammar school, they have developed a level of resiliency and adaptability that sets them apart from other children.

We expect military children to understand that making new friends every two years and that being raised by neighbors and extended family members is normal. We expect them to handle the stress of new situations and separations as if they were adults, while hoping all the while that their childhood remains intact. One might say that there are days when we expect too much of them because in all reality they didn't choose this life, they were simply born to it.

It is for these reasons that we must take every opportunity to honor these children not just during the month of April, but throughout the year.

We all realize that our lives our hectic and filled with a never-ending to do list, but our children not only need, but deserve, the dedication of a few precious moments every day to be reminded of how truly special they are. It really takes very little effort, but the reward will last a lifetime.

So I challenge everyone to take some time to read a book, take a walk, bake a cake or simply sit and snuggle and let them know how very important and meaningful their sacrifice is to our military careers and how much we love them for being who they are.

There are many resources available to guide and assist you in locating events and activities across the nation that honor and highlight our children, to include Military OneSource and Military Homefront. So take a moment and add the most important "to do" to your list and honor a military child today and every day.