It's hard to put yourself in another person’s shoes. When only a very small percentage of individuals have particular experiences, it’s even more difficult.
Military connected kids are part of a small population in the US with unique experiences and fears. Their lives are based around their parent’s military service - protecting and defending our great nation.
Understanding Kids Of America's Heroes Fears & Experiences is Key to Providing Help
Military kids experience:
Additional school transitions
Changing friendships and social dynamics
Prolonged absences of one or both parents
Family changes as a result of military-related illness or injury
Before we can work to support military kids at home and in school, it’s important that we understand how their life experiences and fears impact this brave community.
Moving & Changing Schools
Military children move, on average, every two to three years. Each move takes them away from friends, community groups, and schools. This is a time of major change for military children.
With each move, military children worry about making new friends and finding new social groups. This can be very challenging for children, especially those who are shy or introverted.
Military children must also figure out the dynamics of their new school environment. They need to navigate the halls, locate the cafeteria and the lunchroom, and hope that they connect with their teachers.
For parents, changing schools is often packed with lots of uncertainty and emotion. Military parents need to share everything about their child’s life and academic history very quickly, often without “official” records in hand.
Finding new social groups and learning how to fit in at a new school is a common fear for military children.
Deployments & Other Absences
Deployments are part of military life. Many service members will spend part of every calendar year away from their families, often serving in dangerous locations.
For the last seventeen years, military families have been living with frequent, dangerous deployments to active combat zones. This high operational tempo has created lots of worry and fear for military kids.
Many wonder if their deployed parent will return. Or if their parent will be injured.
For children connected to Reserve or Guard troops, deployments are not their “norm.” Deployments might happen infrequently, but are scheduled for longer periods of time.
Outside of deployments, most military troops will be away from their families for routine training and operations throughout the year. These absences could last a few days to a few months. While they are not as dangerous as deployments, military children are still trying to create balance and order in a house that’s constantly changing.
For any extended absence, military kids worry that their parent might forget them or that their relationship might not be as strong as before. They worry about illness and injury. Military Kids worry about causing extra trouble at home and school. They worry about making their parent proud.
Illness & Injury
Even after deployment, or military service, is over, many military families are living with the aftermath. Illnesses and injuries can be physical, like missing limbs, or hidden, like PTSD and mental illness.
Many Military Kids worry about taking care of an injured or ill parent. Even if they are not actively caring for a parent, military kids worry about not causing trouble. They don’t want to rock the boat or make life harder for anyone.
Helping Kids Of America's Heroes Cope
KOAH is on a mission to help military children find balance, security, and support during the many life changes they will face.
We are dedicated to training and providing resources that will impact the lives of Military Kids.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as showing up for military children. We love to volunteer at unit events and parties! It’s important for families to know that they have a friendly place to turn for support.
Military Kids love getting care packages, especially KOAH Hugs. Our care packages are full of love, with letters from other children and small gifts to spread joy. These packages are exclusively available to children with one or more deployed parents. Families can sign up online or at one of our in-person KOAH events.
It’s also important to spread the message of support for military kids. That’s why we’re dedicated to connecting military and civilian resources with our Fierce Family Workshop providing training, programs, and insights to create understanding.
We’d love to welcome you to KOAH!
Join our team and support military kids! We are always looking for volunteers to make events and program successful. Past volunteers have helped to create amazing Hug packages and coordinate events for deployed units.
Not able to join us in person? Please consider donating to KOAH. Your generosity will help us to send more Hug packages and offer more Fierce Family Workshops as a resource to military families.
We’re also always looking for resources and connections! If you’d like more information about how to help, please email us.