Do you know a child whose parents serve in the military?

These “hidden heroes,” or our military children serve, too! Those whose parents serve on active duty, move 6-9 times during their K-12 school career. This often creates social and academic challenges. It also develops traits like being outgoing, resilient and adaptable.

Kathy Spaulding in 1964 painting “Happy Birthday, Mom” in French.

My father was career active duty Navy. As far as I can recall, I moved 10 times while living at home – my parents packed up our our household goods at least 15 times.

People like me who attended a french speaking preschool in Paris, France (see photo left), graduated from high school in Keflavik, Iceland and then attended college in Munich, Germany learn to truly appreciate being American and see ourselves as global citizens.

I remember it like it was yesterday when me and my family left Paris to return “home” and sailed into the New York Harbor on the SS United States. When I saw the Statue of Liberty, I marveled at this beautiful, special place that was my home, yet didn’t know. At the age of five, France was the only home I remembered.

These dolls are part of my childhood memories from France. I don’t remember anything about them, other than I loved them. This picture is from my presentation last weekend at our Military Ministry “VetConnect: Fountain Hills,” when I shared some of my experiences as a military child.

Children of Reserve and Guard military parents face other unique stressors. They may not relocate as much, but most live in a predominantly civilian community surrounded by children who can’t relate to life in a military family. When their parents deploy, and the children become “suddenly military,” they can feel lost. Thankfully, programs like Purple Star Schools is doing something about the isolation that these military children can feel.

Wondering how you – as a civilian Veteran Champion – could show your support for a military child?

  1. Shake their hand and thank them for being “hidden heroes.”
  2. Give them a hug.
  3. Ask them about where they have lived and what they’ve experienced.
  4. Invite him/her to your neighborhood play group or other social activities.
  5. Present them with a “Thank you for your service, too!” certificate. Click here.
  6. Start the Purple Star School program at your school. Click here.
  7. Dress in purple on “Purple Up Day!” Your school can designate this special date in April.
  8. Obtain additional information about the Miilitary Child Education Coalition (MCEC). Their mission is “Every military-connected child is college, work, and life-ready.” Click here.
  9. Learn other ways to be a civilian Veteran Champion by reading “Beyond ‘Thank you for your service,’ the Veteran Champion handbook for civilians.” Click here.

See how this fun school celebrated Purple Up Day.