The month of April lends the opportunity to show a little more attention to the tiny humans who serve and sacrifice, the children of our service members. Lauren Fagan, caregiver and military spouse to retired MARSOC Marine, Osee Fagan, shares both her children’s experience and that of several other military children.
They endure so much through the years, each age coming with its normal stage only to be compounded by the trials of deployment, workups, courses, continuously relocating, new schools and everyday stress. Every family is different, with each family comes separate tests as well as rewards.
My husband was an active duty Marine for 17 years, our daughter, who is now 12, remembers a lot of “cool” things about daddy’s job. She was able to experience a lot of things that kids only dream of doing.
She was able to watch him jump out of airplanes while waiting at the Drop Zone (DZ), get in an air tunnel simulator to experience skydiving and free falling and go to work with him for the day to see what he did first hand. She also remembers some not so great times, which I’ve opened up about before.
In her short life, she remembers two deployments. She remembers when he was gone much more than his presence. The dark shadows the happiness in many instances because he was gone.
In a moments notice, they would call him for training or a course somewhere on the West Coast. She remembers that deployments always lasted longer than they initially said they would. She has a firm grasp on the concept of hurry up and wait.
Through it all, to her, there is no greater man on the planet. She loves to tell her account of the stories that he has shared with her, and she beams with pride to be the daughter of a special operations Marine. There is so much pride that accompanies being a military child.
It is so important to highlight the experiences of children of all ages, from every branch of service and every background. Many of these kids have endured multiple back-to-back deployments, some have experienced the hardship of processing injury on deployment and sadly some have also experienced the devastating loss of a parent.
When you retire, active duty life stops but the challenges that some face after deployment don’t go away. These children are resilient, brave, amazing and strong.
Military Children Share Their Thoughts:
To get a glimpse into the emotions of being a military child, I made a list of four simple questions for military children of all ages to answer.
When I read the answers, some had me laughing and a few had me in tears. I have seen some of these kids grow up, wondering how in the world they keep it together.
They beam with pride, they are the true definition of America’s finest! They are some of the smartest kids on the planet. They live and breathe for the time that they can spend as a family.
The children who responded to these four questions are from the following military families:
- A family of all girls, minus daddy who is an active duty Marine. Their mommy holds down the fort with three girls closer in age than you would think was humanly possible. Despite the challenges and stress that you face as a military family, this family has the kindest of hearts and continues to go above and beyond to support others.
- A family of five with three amazing kids that is very close to my heart. Their mommy is resilient and wonderful, and daddy is an Army veteran, who undoubtedly has one of the most intense jobs on the planet! Their daddy is a dog handler, and he and my husband served together on their last deployment in Afghanistan.
- I have been blessed in witnessing this family grow over the past ten years. From newlyweds to a family of four. I have watched in amazement as countless days go by without daddy being home whether it be deployments, workups, etc. I have watched them relocate to different homes locally to clear across the country. I have admired their strength for years and their ability to pick up right where they left off.
These are their responses:
Q1: What do you think your parent (dad) does for a living?
- My Daddy fights bad guys; he keeps the bad guys away from us, her least favorite thing is that he doesn’t stay with them, and Mommy takes care of them when Daddy goes to work. – P, age 5
- My Daddy runs for a living. – Carver, age 6
- Shoots at bad guys to protect our Country, all with a dog that searched for bombs. – Julian, age 12
- Fighting. – Hazel, age 9
- My daddy works on computers. – A, age 8
- Daddy is in the Marines. – L, age 4
Q2: What is your favorite thing about your parent’s (dad’s) job?
- Daddy works and he works hard. I love when Daddy calls from work. I love Daddy. – K, age 4
- That he crawls and drives tanks. – Carver, age 6
- I liked when Daddy took me to his job (Fort Bragg) to see the dogs and play in the dog obstacle course. – Julian, age 12
- I like when I go to work with him. – A, age 8
- When he can shoot bad guys. – L, age 4
Q3: What is your least favorite thing about your parent’s (dad’s) job?
- He always has to go fight. – Carver, age 6
- I don’t like how he always has to go away. – Julian, age 12
- How far away he had to go. – Hazel, age 9
- Deployments. DUH! – A, age 8
Q4: What does your other parent (mom) do when your military parent (dad) has to go to work?
- Mommy takes care of me and takes us to school. – Carver, age 6
- Mommy always takes care of us when daddy is gone. – Julian, age 12
- Mommy tries to calm me down when Daddy is gone because I am a big crybaby. – Hazel, age 9
- And Mommy does everything when Daddy is gone. Every. Thing. – A, age 8 (going on 16 wink, wink… )
- You [mom] be home and you clean up. – L, age 4
There is a trend here, in case you haven’t noticed. Military children are acutely aware of the responsibility that their parent holds, they are aware of the danger, and no matter what age they are, they know that both parents play an essential role.
Along with understanding the roles, come understanding the risks of serving, loss is inevitable.
I was honored to have the opportunity to speak with the Kundrat family, a Gold Star family, that understands what it means sacrifice it all. You can read the Kundrat family story here.
April, the month of the military child was started in 1986 by Casper Weinberger, who realized that the sacrifices that military children were making were not being celebrated, acknowledged or recognized. He believed that military children were inspirational in how they handled hard situations, like being separated from family members due to deployment or frequently moving.
While military children make up a small portion of the population, their strength is resounding, their stories will live on for years to come and they can offer so much insight for things that we may never have even considered!
Join Hope For The Warriors and I in honoring and thanking a military child today because they make sacrifices too!
A special thank you to the families that allowed me to ask your children questions! Your participation means the world to me. You have a beautiful family and I am blessed to know you.
About The Author
Lauren Fagan is a member of our Hope For The Warriors Caregiver Services, the wife and caregiver of a USMC veteran, and mother of three beautiful children. Due to the couples love for fellow military families and veterans, as well as their shared passion of farming they founded Operation Barnabas Inc. at Fagan Family Farm in Keystone Heights, Florida.
Check out our Family Resiliency Services and apply today. Once you apply online, our dedicated staff will reach out to you with a phone call. We would be honored to assist you and your family!