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Military children serve alongside parents

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nicole Leidholm
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Being in mission oriented protective posture gear “sucking rubber” may not be the best part of your military career—or maybe it is. But try doing a post-attack reconnaissance sweep with a child tagging along with you.

In 2012, I went on a temporary duty assignment for a unit readiness exercise. MOPP gear, battle rattle, baby and all.

During that exercise, I didn’t realize I was pregnant with my oldest daughter. She spent that week with me in MOPP gear, but as it turns out, it was a fitting way for her to start her life as a military child coming with me on that exercise.

Being in the military inevitably means a deployment, TDY or permanent change of station may be in the near future. For military children, it means time away from a parent and leaving their friends behind to move to a new base and school.

My oldest daughter has been through all of these and then some. Doubled by both parents being in the military, she has been through three deployments, multiple TDYs and a PCS.

She was too young to remember the first time my husband and I deployed—or the TDY she “accompanied” me on. It was the most recent that hit her the hardest. She turned four while her father was deployed and had a hard time going to bed without her dad there to tuck her in and not seeing him everyday. Her sister also had a birthday while he was deployed. She turned one. Missed birthdays and holidays have become something of the norm for us. Saying good-bye to friends and caregivers has as well.

Technology has helped by enabling us to video chat whenever given the chance, but time changes and the mission always poses some challenges in making our “video chat dates.”

Once her dad returned from his deployment, I was later tasked with a short-notice TDY to Argentina.

Every day, she asked when I was coming home and I tried my best to video chat with her despite the time difference. My only hope was that I would make it home by Thanksgiving to spend time with my family. The crew was able to make good on their promise to deliver the cargo needed to accomplish the mission and make it home just in time.

Over the years, she has been resilient to the constant change in the military and her curiosity has grown about our jobs. She’s finally understood that dad only fixes airplanes—he doesn’t fly them—to which she replies that she wants to be a KC-10 Extender pilot.

The month of April is known as Month of the Military Child. The month is dedicated to the hardships and stress military children go through and recognizes their sacrifices.

I take great pride in serving for the United States and for my girls. Our service would not be possible without their sacrifices. It’s because of them that I or their dad can accomplish the mission set before us.

To this, I salute them and all military children serving alongside their moms and dads. You do not go unnoticed and it’s your steadfast resolve and love that allows military parents the ability to serve honorably.