Observing National Military Child Month

by Jo Anne Embleton news@thecherokeean.com

Growing up in a military family is much different than experiencing civilian living when you’re a kid – even if you weren’t part of the family’s “traveling years.”

My daddy was a retired Air Force staff sergeant who left active military service in 1970; several years before, Mom moved us back to South Texas when I was 13 months old, so – as the youngest – I was the only one of six children who was raised in one “hometown.” The one who attended only one school. The one who still has no earthly idea what living in base housing is all about, despite my older siblings’ stories about that lifestyle.

But, as Angela Erickson – Cherokee County’s Military Veteran Peer Network assistant volunteer coordinator – points out, “military kids aren’t just on military bases, and that’s something we don’t think about.”

“Being a military child doesn’t mean you’ve gone through service with a parent, either,” she said. “I wasn’t born yet when my dad came home as a Marine after Vietnam but I still grew up witnessing the effects from it.”

Service members “are in the military and move all around. Then you get out of the military and you move again – anywhere this time, and this is when you see military families end up in rural areas like East Texas,” she said.

Her husband Bradley – the county MVPN coordinator for Cherokee and Anderson counties who is 11 Bravo Army Infantry – “will tell anyone when you’re ETS’ing (released from active duty) with family already moved and uHauls loaded up, the last thing you’re considering is resources you may need, because you don’t even realize you may need help transitioning to civilian life until the dust starts to settle,” she said.

In the midst of all of that transition, “military kids are developing survival coping skills,” Erickson said. “Kids tend to stuff down the anxiety and stressors from their parent’s service that often leads to unintentional isolation.”

As a result, families need the military to focus on resources and events that help its families successfully integrate into the community, she said.

MVPN is “not just advocating for veterans, we are advocates for the veteran families,” Erickson pointed out. “We are here to support the veteran community and want these families to come to us, with whatever it is they’re needing, so we can help find a way through it together.”

The month of April has been designated as Month of the Military Child in recognition of the role military children serve in their families and in their communities.

Locally, several events are planned:

• An monthlong art contest with an April 26 deadline, features work of military kids.

• April 9 – Personal certificates honoring military children will be printed by the Ericksons at the MVPN office at 804 S. Main St. in Jacksonville.

• April 16 – The couple will distribute dandelion seed cups at the Jacksonville office.

• April 22 – MVPN will host a cookout, beginning at 4 p.m., at the Palestine Bowling Center.

• April 29 – Winners of a Military Art Contest will be announced at a local gathering. Winning artwork will be displayed at the Jacksonville office throughout the rest of the year.

To learn more about Month of the Military Child, contact Angela Erickson, mamabearerickson@icloud.com