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4: DIVERSITY

We see lots of new faces and places.

With more than 500 U.S. military installations around the world, some active duty families get to see a lot of America and even a few countries overseas. Kids may have lived in popular locations like Germany, Japan, Korea, England, or Italy for several years at a time. They may have even picked up a second language. In a 2007 report on Army families, 81 percent of adults who were raised in the Army reported speaking one or two languages other than English while growing up.

The Armed Forces are generally recognized as a diverse force. Between moving around and experiencing the diverse nature of the Service, military kids learn how to fit in just about anywhere and make new friends fast.

“You move a lot so you have to rely on family.”

Dealing with the mobility of military life can be tough. But Operation Purple® kids saw the upside—vacations in between PCS’s (permanent change of stations), international travel, and cool gifts from mom or dad’s unaccompanied tours. No matter the Service, military kids can embrace the positive parts of change. What an incredible life lesson to learn so young! Help them keep that perspective with these strategies:

  • Share your story about a new job, new school, or new friends. They’ll see how you handled it and maybe share their experiences, too.
  • Engage military kids as classroom
    resources. They can provide real
    insight to living in other towns and
    countries.
  • Military kids are used to making new friends. Tap into the strengths they’ve developed meeting new people. Maybe they can help other new kids get oriented to the area or serve on diversity councils at school.
  • Talk about personal strengths.Teach them ways to reach for those strengths during a big change in their life.

Resources:

Military Child Initiative “Building Resilient Kids” web-based course offered by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins Center on School, Family and Community Partnerships. Visit www.jhsph.edu/mci/training_course for more information.

Positive Psychology—Geared for older children and adults, this site has helpful information on learning to use personal strengths to deal with life’s challenges. Visit www.authentichappiness.org for more information.