2 minute readMilitary Support, Volunteers

What it Means to be the Child of a Service Member

Aidan, a military child, holding up a West Point flag.

When you ask military children where they’re from, they usually respond with clarifying questions like, “Oh, do you mean where I was born, where I was last stationed, where I lived the longest, or where I loved living the most?” This is one of several ways to identify a military child.

Military children have a number of distinctions: how they stop everything at 17:00 to stand for retreat, their instinct to stand for the national anthem at the movie theatre and their tendency to call all grocery stores the commissary. However, a military child is not just a military child in his or her behaviors; being a military child completely shapes you and identifies your very foundation.

Military children are strong as a result of the sacrifices they are asked to make, adaptable due to moving whenever the orders are received, and resilient because of the many times they are asked to say goodbye to friends and schools and start over yet again. Not only do they move duty stations, but they often say goodbye to their mothers and fathers for up to a year when deployment orders come.

One might think that asking this sacrifice of young children would result in a growing sense of resentment towards the military, but for many it does quite the opposite. These sacrifices and a parent’s service to the United States foster a sense of pride in being an American and a part of the military community. Military children understand the sacrifices of service and respect the dedication it requires.

My name is Aidan Wright, and I am a military child. If you were to ask me where I am from, I would respond in the typical military kid fashion: I was born in New York, my family was last stationed in Ft. Hood, Texas, but the longest I ever lived anywhere was three years in Tampa, Florida. Stuttgart, Germany, has been my favorite duty station. I am a currently a senior at Stuttgart High School in Stuttgart, Germany. This is my second high school, making this my 11th move in 17 years.

I have always been proud of being a military child. Not to say the journey has not been hard, because trust me, saying goodbye never gets easier. Every time my dad deployed I was proud he was serving our country. Every time we moved I was proud that it was for a greater cause.

 Growing up on military posts, I have always been surrounded by military service members, I saw their dedication every day and I learned to serve from them. I looked for ways I could show my appreciation for their service, and chose to volunteer with the American Red Cross, feeling a special connection to the branch of their mission that provides service to the armed forces.

I have been a Red Cross volunteer for the past two years, became president of the American Red Cross Youth Club at my school, Vice President of the European Youth Council, and have led multiple projects geared toward service to the armed forces.

 As I entered my senior year, I realized that the time for me to leave the military community and the lifestyle I had fallen in love with, was quickly approaching. Personally, I can’t imagine any other lifestyle than the one that made up my entire childhood. For me, no other career could be as fulfilling and as meaningful, so I made the decision to follow my father’s footsteps and apply to the United States Military Academy at West Point. I received my appointment to West Point this January, and I look forward to emulating the lessons of duty, honor, and dedication to my country that I learned from the service members I grew up surrounded by as a military child.

Service to the Armed Forces

To learn more about how the Red Cross supports military and veteran families, visit redcross.org.