How many times have you sat back and wondered what your children would be like when they were grown up? Would they have the same arguments at the dinner table? Temper tantrums about sharing and who last cleaned the bathroom? Did you often worry if they would be okay with yet again another transition? Military children are a unique and often under-recognized population where redefined challenges and life experiences collide. Children of our service members are often exposed to a variety of familial, social, and academic pressures that we often as adults can find burdensome. While these challenges are of utmost importance, I wanted to open this brief reflection on how the identity of being a military child impacted my two daughters.
Despite the deployments, surviving life with a semi-crazy Mom, making quality friends, and a lot of crazy moves, they endured and both daughters pursued service-related healthcare careers. Stephanie, my older daughter, currently is an ICU nurse at Scripps Health in San Diego, California and was selected as the hospital’s Nurse of the Year for 2020! She selflessly has served on the front lines during the pandemic and has made the sacrifices many of us make while wearing a different uniform. She is a wife, mother, and with all going in life – is still able to make it all happen effortlessly. She has this quirky sense of humor and I love watching her raise my granddaughters – our next generation of girls to be strong, young women. Stephanie transitioned from military child to becoming a military spouse, but that is a story in its own! While her husband Charles served on active duty in the Marine Corps, she subsequently earned her BSN in nursing, took her NCLEX during a PCS move, and began her career in the ICU while living in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Samantha, my younger daughter, has this incredible authentic ability to positively impact anyone she comes in contact with! She has a heart for service and a traveling spirit already making her mark in China, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. She was my sensitive child and while her sister was always packed and ready to move on to our next adventure, Sam wanted to grow roots and friends in one place. To this day she fosters her spiritual gifts by inspiring others that change is good for the soul. Her determination earned her the Dean’s Award from Loma Linda University while earning her master’s degree in occupational therapy. She currently works in pediatric OT in San Diego, California where she provides services to military families and their children. She strives to apply her unique skills and values into her current patient service and commits to this seamlessly. There is more to her story, but that is conversation for another time!
As a young parent, I had a lot of stress on how my military service would impact my girls and their future. As many know, there are hardships and challenges that come with having children on active duty, including change of duty stations, deployments – you name it. I wanted to share with you today my testimony and wisdom from “the end.” I am a retired Marine and after being out of the military service for over seven years now, I find my strong values, creative energy, passion for service, and fire for life maybe did get passed along to my two little curly-haired girls. I have come to realize while my service impacted them, it is their resilience and determination that brought them to where they are today. I hope this can be a source of motivation to all parents who serve. Despite the tough times, the end yields some great results. Stephanie and Samantha, I cannot overstate how proud I am of the both of you. YOU persevered….and made it happen!