Challenges military families face, overcome

Junior+Anna+Keneally+reunited+with+her+dad+after+a+long+deployment+in+Iraq.

Photo Courtesy of Anna Keneally

Junior Anna Keneally reunited with her dad after a long deployment in Iraq.

It had been nine months since her dad was deployed to Afghanistan. The video chats were nice, but it wasn’t the same as talking in person. Only a first grader, she had little understanding of the situation over there, and the heroic work taking place. One night, the front door opened, and she heard a familiar voice. She ran to embrace her dad, who had finally come home.

This is the reality for most children who have a parent in the military. Serving in the military comes with its sacrifices, one of the most common being deployment. Service members are often deployed to dangerous places, where they risk their lives on behalf of the United States. Although deployment of active-duty soldiers is higher than other branches, other branches such as medical staff in the Navy are deployed as well.

Not all deployment is due to war, and military personnel may be deployed on a peaceful mission. The deployment period is typically between six months to a year, but can last longer depending on the situation. “My dad was deployed when I was around ​five or six​ and he was gone for one year,” freshman Annabel Bunten said.

When one parent is away for an extended period of time, it can be difficult for the other parent to take care of children alone. “When my dad was deployed it was like having a single parent. Both me and my brother are very active and play a lot of sports so it was difficult for my mom to get us to our practices and there were times when he had to cancel plans because she can’t be in two places at once. When my dad came home it was very different because he missed one year of our lives so we had changed a lot and he had missed it,” Bunten said.

… as a military brat, you always feel it looming in the back of your mind, like the possibility of having to uproot your life again.”

— Anna Keneally

Deployment isn’t the only sacrifice that military families make. Service members may be relocated to different parts of the U.S., U.S. territories, or even other countries. Moves can happen at any time, which can be especially difficult during middle school and ​high school​. “I have been through multiple moves, thankfully not as many as other military families. I have not moved in high school or middle school, but as a military brat, you always feel it looming in the back of your mind, like the possibility of having to uproot your life again,” junior Anna Keneally said.

While military families have different experiences than others, they have come together to support one another in their communities. Connections between different military families remain even after moves. When a military family moves to a new place, they can find a community of other families and create more connections. “In an area like Montgomery County where there are so few military families, when you do find them, you almost always hit it off. It really is an amazing community because everyone there knows the sacrifice it takes to be in the military,” Keneally said.