Child saying goodbye to father before deployment

Resiliency. I often hear that word when someone is describing a child who has grown up in a military family. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, resiliency is defined as “the ability to recover from or adjust easily to adversity or change.” And while it is true that a military child must learn this attribute in order to thrive, the following truth CANNOT be taken for granted or under-expressed:

Growing up as a military child is so, so hard.

My dad was in the Army from before I was born until I graduated from high school. Of course I still dealt with the typical issues that kids have when they’re growing up and learning about themselves and life in general, but some things were solely understood by my fellow military brats. After all, not every girl my age had not only been to multiple states, but lived in several as well. Living with the knowledge that every couple of years my life would take a whole new turn was unsettling and hard to come to grips with — especially when we lived somewhere I loved. If the moving aspect isn’t challenging enough, my Dad’s deployment to Saudi Arabia, his frequent work trips and trainings, and wild hours that sometimes seemed to keep him away more than he was able to be at home definitely contributed to an overall feeling of being unsettled and unsure of what the future might bring.

But while being a military brat presented all different kinds of struggles, it also afforded me opportunities for growth, new and exciting experiences, love of country, and a deep, unwavering admiration for those in uniform. It began to weave a tapestry of resiliency in spite of disappointment and pain. The camaraderie that accompanied the friendships I had with other children whose parent(s) served in the armed services was unique and, quite frankly, almost unbreakable. Standing beside fellow friends and family members whose loved ones were serving overseas or were gearing up for their next PCS forged friendships and bonds not easily broken. We learned at a young age how to bear one another’s burdens. We felt deep empathy for others who were enduring heartache and experiencing loss because we had, in some capacity, been in a similar situation ourselves.

Now that my husband and I have two children who are also growing up as military brats, I am reminded again of the difficulty of what they have already gone through and what they will experience in the future. While still in elementary school, they have moved several times, endured multiple TDY trips and training exercises, and missed their daddy fiercely through a long deployment.

Thankfully, I am also reminded of the wisdom they will glean from this lifestyle they live. Yes, they will have heartache and they will yearn for more stability. But I say this without negating the hardship of the military child’s life, they will learn resiliency.