By Lauriliz Mulero, Age 13
Excerpt from Julie Rahm’s Military Kids Speak. Julie Rahm is an inspirational keynote speaker and the author of Military Kids Speak. As the daughter of a Navy man and wife of a U.S. Marine, Julie has a passion for military kids. Proceeds from Military Kids Speak go to programs that honor and inspire military kids.
I, as a military child, have experienced and suffered from my dad’s deployments three times. Experiencing this is not easy because no one wants a father to be away. Feelings that I did not think I had just came out of me and I realized that I missed him. The feeling most likely to be found in a military family is sadness. Sadness is not a good feeling because it could lead to depression. I want people to listen to what I have to say and realize what military children go through.
Let me start talking about feelings. People have a lot of feelings. For example, they can feel love, anger, happiness, anxiety, and depression. Military families have all these feelings. In my family, sadness and anxiety covers us like a blanket. Let me talk about sadness. Of course, I could get fat for many reasons, but when my father is leaving for a year, I deal with something else. I need to enjoy that last day with my dad. When my dad is deployed, I feel like I need to prepare myself to take on new responsibilities and become mature and have more courage. But I also hope that his assignment for a year would go by as fast as the wind blows and he would be home.
Right now, anxiety is the most ominous feeling that my family has. I can get anxious for many reasons, like waiting for something special, like birthdays, and other things. But in the case of my mom and me, it is different because we are also anxious and waiting for my father to come back home to be with us. In the past, I have experienced that the day before my dad ended his assignment. A way that I got my head away from thinking about this situation was by reading a book or listening to music. I tried to entertain myself to distract my mind.
One change that exists at our home while my father is deployed has to do with family communication. Unfortunately, this is a situation I’m dealing with now. My mom and I are very good examples of a lack of communication. I know that it is my fault. She is always trying to communicate with me, but I turn away and make her feel bad. I know she misses daddy a lot. Communication is very important in the family, so I really do not want to make the same mistake again. When parents want to talk, we just have to listen to them.
While my dad was deployed, I thought about his safety. I have learned not to think negatively. I think about him being okay and that is what matters. While my dad is deployed, I have to make some changes in my life. I have to become braver, stop being lazy, and take on new responsibilities. I have to learn to be strong about the things that I deal with so I start to think about the future. By thinking about the future, I focus on what my emotions will be when he comes back. That is what I did four years ago when I did not know if dad would return.
During my dad’s first assignment, my mom joined the Family Readiness Group. There, they had activities for kids and orientations, too. There, I met kids that understood what I was going through. I was a child that did not understand what she felt about her dad’s deployment. But with time, I matured and understood how to support my dad. Then I entered the deployed students’ group at school which helped a lot. I met students and friends that understood what I was going through. We also have field trips and activities to help me deal with my situation.
Having my dad deployed has taught me what to do and where to get help. The counselors at school are always there for me. Whenever I have a problem, I go to them and even if it is a love problem, they help me 24/7. Believe me, if you have a problem big or small, go to the counselors and they will help you a lot.
I dream. I dream, and every day I dream about the day my father returns from his assignment. I dream about everything going back to normal. I dream about happiness and all the wonderful experiences my family has gone through. I dream about my father returning home safely. This is my life as a military child, and I will continue to dream.
Excerpts from the book Military Kids Speak reprinted with permission from Third Wave Press. More essays by military kids and interviews with celebrity military kids like Shaquille O’Neal can be found in Military Kids Speak, http://www.MilitaryKidsSpeak.com. You can also find more about Military Kids Speak on their Facebook page.
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