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Transition Tips for Military Kids by Military Kids

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(From left) Military kids Jared, Sean and Kyle Hesketh pose with their dad, Air Force Capt. William Hesketh, on the day he leaves for deployment. (Courtesy photo)

Military children face unique challenges: the absence of a deployed parent, multiple moves to new cities and schools, and concerns about a parent’s safety—just to name a few.

We asked seven military children how they coped with these transitions and emotions.

Meet Sean Thornton, 13, whose guardian grandfather, retired Marine Staff Sgt. Hector Medina (previously featured in the DCoE newsletter), deployed to Iraq twice. Kyle Hesketh, 16, and his younger brothers, twins Jared and Sean, 11, have lived in two countries and four cities. Their father, Air Force Capt. William Hesketh, is stationed at Lajes Field, Azores (Portugal). Siblings William Whitaker, 21; Marinda Hicks, 13; and Andrew Hicks, Jr., 9, have grown up in a military lifestyle with their mother, Navy Lt. Teresa Mae Hicks. The family has experienced multiple deployments, and Lt. Hicks is currently stationed at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Tips to Cope with Deployment:

“I would email him and he’d call every week from overseas. My grandma and I would send him stuff like magazines and his favorite candy or DVDs.”
– Sean Thornton

“Keep busy and Skype whenever you can—it’s good seeing my dad on the computer. I talk to my family, friends and teachers when he’s away. I like to play sports and tell my dad all about my games.” – Jared Hesketh

“When my mom went out on deployment, I was young but I do remember missing her and always tried to keep in touch. Skype was a big thing and seeing her on the computer made it feel like she never left.”
– Andrew Hicks, Jr.

On Moving to a New City:

“Basketball was one way I made friends, and it’s my mom’s favorite sport. It felt great to play on a team and make her proud. I’d say do things that would make your parents proud.” – William Whitaker

“When you move to a new place and want friends, just be yourself and join things you are interested in. Get to know the teachers and let them know if you were taught differently at your previous school so you can stay on track with your school work.” – Kyle Hesketh

“I am somewhat reserved; so making new friends isn’t the easiest thing for me to do. [But] I love the travel aspect of it all; I love adventure and new things.” – Marinda Hicks

“I like that we get to go to different places and sometimes it’s tough because we have to move away from our friends and family. This year, I’m starting a new middle school. I like to talk, so I make friends easily.”
– Sean Hesketh

On Sharing Your Feelings:

“I come from a military family, so it’s easy when you have cousins who can relate and talk to you about the emotions that come with someone going on deployment.” – Marinda Hicks

“I try not to worry too much. My grandma says he’ll be fine with his Marine buddies, and they will come back home soon once the work is done. I don't talk that much about it, but my friends know and they understand.” – Sean Thornton

Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) supports resources that help military children through these potential challenges. Download the Children of Military Service Members Resource Guide, and visit Sesame Workshop’s “Talk, Listen, Connect” site for information and resources the entire family can use. Check out our April newsletter which focuses on military children, specifically this article about resources for children coping with transitions.


Comments (7)

  • DCoE Blog Editor 05 Sep

    Military OneSource is a great resource: www.militaryonesource.com. For help with sending a care package to a service member, visit: http://goo.gl/OuHrF. Joining Forces, a Department of Defense initiative, has a website that includes several options for ways you can show your support to service members, visit: www.whitehouse.gov/joiningforces. For information about PTSD, other psychological health concerns or traumatic brain injury, please contact the DCoE Outreach Center. There are three ways you can connect with the center: call 866-966-1020, email resources@dcoeoutreach.org or online chat at http://www.dcoe.health.mil/247help.
  • MichaelDwight Vian 05 Sep

    How can I get involved with the Military and send things? I have family in the Military. One with PTSD in the Army. I'm a crime stopper with the JEAN TEAM Joint Effort Against Narcotics Task Force. May God Protect those who Protect and Serve at all Times especially in rules of engagement. Godspeed Peace be with us all
  • David 05 Sep

    Well done Sean Thornton, Jared Hesketh, Andrew Hicks, Jr and others; it is really appreciable. It looks you all have learned to live the army life, taken the granted life for ease........... Might be apart from Sean, Jared and Andrews view of living technique is not know to us, but I guess they also live it to their way fullest. It best to say Live Life Kingsize.... that is what I believe......
  • Debbie Pecora 05 Sep

    I love all military kids because I spent my entire childhood and teen years as a "military brat." That's what older adults call ourselves. I have a piece of advice I would like to pass on that my brother, sister and I and many other kids did when we moved to a new base or post. When you move during the summer and can't meet kids in school we would go house to house in our neighborhood asking if they had kids our ages. Kids also came to our house with the same question. This would not be safe off base but it's a great way to meet other kids and have fun all summer long! Military life can be a lot of fun and I still think of all the young "military brats" with affection and best wishes. You are great!
  • DCoE Blog Editor 05 Sep

    Thanks for sharing this tip! Military children certainly face unique challenges and your advice lets them know people are thinking of them...even people they don't know...and that in itself is worth sharing.
  • Sarah Hasting 05 Sep

    It's often a good idea for children who are making a life transition to find outlets to express themselves, such as art, or writing poetry. Sometimes students can find comfort even by reading book about someone else going through a similar experience. Beyond getting these students to graduation, there are many opportunities to support them emotionally as well.
  • DCoE Blog Editor 05 Sep

    You’re absolutely right, Sarah! Thanks for sharing.

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