Posted by Amy Presuhn on October 29, 2014 at 3:51 PM

The National Military Family Association, in conjunction with the RAND Survey Research Group, recently commissioned a study to explore in what ways children raised in military families struggle, and in what ways they excel when faced with parents’ wartime deployments. 

RAND surveyed 1500 young people, and in turn, each subject’s non-deployed parent. The results were not surprising: Rates of anxiety, as well as other emotional and behavioral difficulties exceeded national averages, and longer periods of deployment only exacerbated the challenges.

In light of this, the study also found that most military families are coping well. Military families are strong, and steadfast, and the foundation upon which Yellow Ribbons United was founded. Military parents will continue to deploy; their spouses will continue to play the role of mom AND dad, and with our support, their children will be just fine.

1. Military kids are proud.

Red, and green, and blue, and purple and orange: A construction paper chain has weaved its way through the living room, into the dining room, down the hallway and into Sally’s bedroom, one link for each day Daddy’s been gone. Seven months have passed, and he’s coming home next week. Seven-year-old Sally is so excited. She’s got cardboard and puffy paint, and takes special care to spell each word right: “WELCOME HOME, DADDY.” And underneath, “YOU’RE MY HERO.” 

2. Military kids stand and serve.

A few years have passed, and now Sally is ten. As if a double-digit birthday wasn’t exciting enough, Sally will be issued her very first military ID card. She may not wear a uniform like dad, but she is still responsible for making chain links when he’s gone, and she uses all of her allowance money to help buy the socks and snacks to fill care packages. Sally understands that she must take on big girl responsibilities, and that Daddy is depending on her.

3. Military kids live in your community.

Sally is starting middle school, and she’s decided that she wants to go to the public school in town instead of the Department of Defense school on post. She wants to play sports, and join clubs, and she probably wants to catch the eye of that cute boy in class. As the daughter of a military service member, she moves a lot, so she’s probably pretty used to being the new kid. Don’t be shy: Go up, and say hello. Sally’s dad is deployed, and she misses him terribly, so she needs friends now more than ever.

4. Military kids are diverse.

Guess what? Sally speaks Korean! Ask, and she might teach you a thing or two. 

5. Military kids understand separation.

Sally’s dad has missed three birthdays in the last four years. He never forgets to Skype, just in time to see her blow out the candles, but it’s just not the same. This is just part of military life. Sally and her mom fill their time well: They continue to create paper chains, and read books, and take weekend trips. Before they know it, Dad is home, and the separation is over.

6. Military kids hold tradition close to their hearts.

Military service is rooted in tradition, as is clearly proven by the emphasis on uniform standards — from training, to clothing, to behavioral expectations — but this old worldliness doesn’t limit itself to the service member alone. Sally’s mom leads a Family Readiness Group, and they, as a unit, work hard to uphold their duty to support their soldier, and the members of their larger military family.

7. Military kids deserve support and recognition.

Sally has lived on military base her whole life, and in different countries around the world. She shops at the commissary with her mom, and goes to the doctor on post when she is sick. In a place like Korea or Germany, where the language is foreign, the convenient placement of basic amenities and recreational facilities can mean a world of difference.

8. Military kids get scared. 

“Get it together, Sally,” she thinks. “This deployment is the same as all the others. He’ll be fine. Take a deep breath. He’ll be fine.”

This is deployment number five. Sally should be an old hat at this by now. But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how many times he’s gone away, she gets worried and anxious when they don’t hear from him for a few days. 

8. Military kids experience loss.

Yesterday, Sally got the worst news of all. Her dad won’t be coming home this time. This deployment is not the same as all the others. She’s a senior in high school, and all she wanted was for both of her parents to be there to watch her walk across that stage. 

Thousands of service members have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, and when the unspeakable happens, the military family is left to pick up the pieces on their own — but they’re not alone.