Approximately 1 in 25 Americans is a military brat.
“Brat,” by the way, is not a derogatory term, but rather a badge of honor. Military Brats Day is observed on April 30. It was started in 2016 by Military Brats, Inc., a non-profit that seeks to preserve the culture and heritage of those who grew up military.
First, a quick snapshot of what it’s like to be a military child: You’re moving, on average, once every three years. You’re likely to have lived overseas, maybe in Germany or Korea. You don’t really have a hometown. And you’ve had to learn how to make friends quickly. Worst of all is when your mom or dad is deployed to a war zone. People call you resilient, but it may not feel that way to you.
Sacrifice and Service
Military children do get to see new places—and have a wealth of interesting experience. But, in addition to the stress of worrying about their parents, these kids have the stress of constant moving.
The impact of that can be life-changing. According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, frequent moving increases the risk of mental health problems, including attention deficit disorder, conduct disorder, self-injury, and even suicidal behaviors. The risk is higher for children in middle school and high school.
By far, the most common mental health risk is anxiety, according to a publication by the U.S. Army. Signs of anxiety include separation anxiety, worrying about the parent at home during deployment, excessive worry, sleep problems, and frequent headaches and stomach aches. It’s also a red flag when kids simply stop talking to their parents.
Rather than just chalk these signs up to a “phase,” it’s important to treat your child’s mental health as seriously as you do their physical health, recognizing that early intervention often leads to better outcomes.
To assist military families, the Army has introduced the Child and Family Behavioral Health System (CAFBHS), which connects family members with top-notch mental health care. If you feel your child needs support, take advantage of the help offered.
Easing the Transition
While starting a new school in a new city will never be easy, MilitarySpouse.com does offer suggestions for ways you can help your child reduce stress and anxiety during the transition.
• Research schools ahead of time, using sites like GreatSchools.org. Use Facebook to look for local PTO/PTA groups and ask them questions. Contact your receiving squadron, unit, or command and ask for the contact information for other moms who can help point you in the right direction.
• Compare your child’s current curriculum to the curriculum in the district you’re headed to. Does the new school use Common Core? Call your new school’s guidance counselor and come up with a plan to determine whether your child will be ahead of or behind in their new school.
• Ask what special resources are available to military children. The Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission was created to protect and advocate for these children—and is a good resource.
• Create a binder with all of the documents you’ll need, including report cards, school work samples, assessment results, teacher comments, copies of IEP, copies of 504 plan, medical immunization records, letters from teachers, and copies of testing results.
• Schedule meetings to discuss any special needs your child may have.
• Make a plan to tour the new school with your children.
• Once you move, contact your school liaison at your new base to get connected with other military families.
• Make a plan to use technology to allow your child to stay in touch with old friends.
Making Moving Easier with StorageMart
Self-storage is an easy and affordable way to make moving just a little bit less stressful. Whether you need extra space to keep things for a year or only a month, self storage gives you the space you need to make life easier. Units range from the size of a closet to the size of a garage and are available with climate control, which is important if you’re storing antiques, collectibles, or even electronics.