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Military Brat

Editorial, submitted by Ms. Doyle

 I am a proud “military brat”. Not just one, but BOTH of my parents are veterans. In a study called “The State of Post-9/11 Veteran Families” published in 2016 by the Urban Institute, they state that they use the date from the “2013 and 2014 data from the American Community Survey” for their report. So, while the dates are a bit out of my range, I’m going to share their percentages with you so you can see just how rare that is for a person to have both of their parents end up being veterans.  “More than 1 million post-9/11 veteran families live in the United States, accounting for more than 1 million veterans, 1 million spouses, and 2.1 million children…More than three-quarters of post-9/11 veteran families are married couples. Most of these families (around 82 percent) are made up of a male veteran and a nonveteran spouse, and another 12 percent are made up of a female veteran and a nonveteran spouse. In only 7 percent of these married couples are both parents veterans.”  7 percent of 1 million families. Pretty small percentage, huh? Now, are those numbers going to be off a bit because my parents served before 9/11? Yes. But it gives you the general idea of what a small percentage I fell in as a kid with both parents serving deployed during war time.  My father had been deployed on a NATO mission that, to this day, he can’t tell me about or he would have to kill me, and all that James Bond verbiage. While he was gone, my mother and I were still stateside, where my father had left us, when her unit was activated for Operation Desert Storm. See, my mother had processed out of the military a couple of years before, but was still serving in the National Guard.  I remember the day she got her orders because she came home in tears. Is it fun for any soldier to get the orders they’re going to war? No. However, in my mother’s case, she didn’t think it was a remote possibility because her husband was already deployed overseas, and when it came to the military, both parents were not supposed to be deployed out at the same time, leaving their child stateside. I don’t remember what year it was, but I can tell you that I was relatively young and in elementary school at the time.  My mother begged and pleaded her superior officers not to send her because then both of my parents would be gone, and sadly we had lost my little brother only a few years before that, but the military told her she had to go. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bitter about that at all. As a military brat I have a strong patriotic belief that service to your country is an honor, but that everyone should be realistic. If you sign your name over to Uncle Sam, if he tells you that you must go, then you have to go.  So, my mother sent me to live in another state with her parents and off she went to Iraq. Now, as an adult, I know now that Operation Desert Storm was less than a year long. To that little kid though, she had been gone forever.  Calls from my parents were few and far between, but I remember cherishing everyone with all that my little kid heart could. And then, I remember the day my mom came home. I was standing on bleachers next to my grandmother, desperately looking for my mother’s shoulder length curly hair. She had told my grandparents that she would have an orange sash type thing tied to her pack so we could spot her, but I didn’t see an orange sash anywhere. I panicked. Had my mom not come home? My grandparents had promised she was coming home, so why didn’t I see her orange sash. I cried like only an overwhelmed little kid could cry while my grandmother held me and promised me that she was out there in that big formation of soldiers just waiting to hug me.  Finally, the soldiers were dismissed, and they all broke ranks to head towards their families. My grandmother took me down off the bleachers and I remember looking into the face of every adult who passed me, hoping that one of them was her. Eventually, my grandmother jerked my hand to get my attention. Several feet in front of me was my mom, with a pixie haircut and no orange sash, closing the distance between us.  In a blink of an eye she scooped me up in her arms and then I cried tears of joy. In fact, I’m crying now just thinking about that memory.  Military brats give up so much when their parents serve in the military. They move a lot, it’s hard to keep friends, and sometimes their parents deploy out for long periods of time. Life can be confusing and frustrating for them. So, in honor of Month of the Military Child, April, I plead to you to think of the children in military families. Praise them, love them and support them. They go through so much and are usually asked to “be strong” at ages other children don’t have to be.  I am a military brat, and there is not one single thing I would change about that. No matter the scares, heartache, or worry. My parents served their country proudly, and for that, I am immensely honored to be their child. Until next time Meade County, when I share the next adventure in my life story with the hopes it helps someone, somewhere. Ms. Doyle Do you have a question or comment for Ms. Doyle? Feel free to contact her! Ms. Doyle can be reached by email at: msdoylesopinion@gmail.com

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