From the Chairman
by Mary Scott, Chairman of the Board
Back to school: words that cause kids to cringe and parents to cheer! In the case of many military families, these words also likely cause feelings of uncertainty with a side of anxiety. Moves mean new schools. All of us who have moved with the military have experienced the “knot in the stomach” as we face the uncertainty of a new school system. For children, it means a whole new scene—socially, academically, and in their sports world! For parents, it means learning all the requirements of a new system so that you are able to smooth the transition for your kids – a tall order when you consider all that is involved with signing into a new school.
I remember my own first days of school in many new locations. We moved often, so starting in a new school felt very familiar, even though the building and the people were new and different. We had an advantage over some military kids in that we traveled with a large pack—7 kids, including my twin sister. Even though we were seldom in the same class, we could always find one another on the playground or in the cafeteria! Most often we lived on Army posts, so we were surrounded by kids who were in the same boat and with whom we became fast and good friends. Things were not perfect, but we loved our life and were very proud to be Army brats!
However, as time moved on and we aged into middle and high schoolers, transitions became more difficult. Emotions were heightened and relocating required much more from us than when we were very young and our parents handled it all! My father had repeated tours to Vietnam and, in the “bad old days,” when the service member deployed, we were required to move out of quarters and set up house somewhere in the civilian world. The civilian world was a whole new ballgame—fellow students hadn’t a clue about the military lifestyle, and our heroes were fighting a very unpopular war. We were equipped to handle these challenges, however, because we had experienced much change and truly were adaptable. Military life strengthened our family. We developed a trust and comfort level that remains today, bonds that allowed us to thrive in every new school. Military life taught us the value of friends, as well. Family is always there, but friends might be there only for a short time – better get to know them well while you have the time together! My own children have a similar bond among themselves and with more dear friends than I can count.
Overcoming obstacles and making the most of less-than-ideal circumstances can be achieved, but it takes effort! Military parents should always keep in mind that they are their family’s best advocates. I always advise parents to learn all they can about a new place. If the information is confusing or doesn’t address your needs, turn to experts for help! Make phone calls and set up appointments with school administrators. Know your children’s academic and extracurricular needs and interests, strengths and weaknesses! Remember the many organizations and programs that are here to help you - the National Military Family Association, along with community-based organizations, are here to inform, educate and support military families. Learn, advocate, and communicate. Together we’re all stronger!
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Until military families are relieved of the weight of war, we hope you will continue to contribute to their wellbeing.
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