Military child: A story of resilience and strength

  • Published
  • By Chustine Minoda
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

U.S. President Joe Biden voiced that military children embody the very best of America — shouldering the unique challenges military life places on families across our Nation and around the world with tenacity.  

Harmony Duncan, 14-year-old daughter of U.S. Air Force Maj. Christopher Duncan, 60th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron flight nurse, has gone through at least five permanent change of stations, both internationally and domestically. In addition to these moves, Harmony and her two younger siblings, William and Gabe, had to adapt to their father's frequent absences due to deployments and temporary duty assignments. 

“I do feel a little bit sad leaving friends, however, I also get excited because with moving comes the possibilities of making new friends,” said Harmony.  

Throughout the Duncan family’s various military moves, the children have also encountered the challenges of adapting to new schools. In one of the schools Harmony attended, she unfortunately experienced getting physically attacked by another student, which ultimately led to her being homeschooled. Because of her resilience and adaptability, she embraced this change and took her homeschooling as an opportunity to broaden her knowledge in a unique way. At 14, she has started taking college courses, discovered a supportive community within the Travis Air Force Base church youth groups and embarked on her creative journey by pursuing her passion for jewelry-making.  

Amber Duncan, Travis AFB Military and Family Readiness Center community readiness specialist and Harmony’s mom, has been the constant presence for the Duncan children. Growing up in a military family, Amber has the ability to understand and connect with her children's experiences.  

“I grew up as a military brat and I enjoyed getting the opportunity to start over, meet new people and see how the rest of the country or the world do things,” said Amber. 

According to Amber, travel presents a distinctive opportunity for military families. When stationed at Kadena Air Base, Japan, the Duncan family had the chance to explore both the country and neighboring nations. During one of their trips, they were fortunate enough to see the terra cotta army sculptures and visit the Great Wall of China, where Harmony and her brother had the unforgettable experience of climbing it. 

While stationed here, Amber expressed her appreciation for the care her family receives, particularly to the commitment of Mrs. Kris Salmi, spouse of Brig. Gen. Derek Salmi, 60th Air Mobility Wing commander, to Team Travis families' well-being. Additionally, Amber is grateful for Col. Lisa Palmer, 60th AES commander, and her dedication to the welfare of the families in her unit. 

Amber highlighted the significance of access to mental health care for military children. This is particularly crucial for children when both parents deploy, leading to an unexpected transition to being cared for by other family members, like their grandparents. This major change can make it challenging to find a balance, especially for children who are still learning to navigate their own emotions, as everyone has unique needs.  

“If your parent is going to get deployed, don’t worry,” said Harmony. “It’s going to be okay. Just breathe in and breathe out; they will be back soon. Sometimes you can’t communicate with them because their internet can be spotty, but you are going to be alright, you are going to be good.”

Harmony will be starting high school in person this fall. Additionally, she plans to continue her jewelry-making business once her family relocates to their next military base next month. In pursuit of helping others, Harmony intends to donate 30% of her profits to various charitable organizations.