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NEWS | Aug. 28, 2012

Children: The True Unsung Heroes

By Col. Albert Miller 437th Airlift Wing vice commander

I recently attended a course to improve my public presentation skills. In one of the exercises they asked us to give a presentation on a subject we felt passionate about with a call to action.

With all the heroes I personally know, there was no doubt in my mind what I would talk about. It was only a two-minute speech, but after I told this class of business managers from multiple companies about these heroes, and the debt of gratitude we all owe them, there were only a few dry eyes in the room. So now I write this article hoping to remind you of these unsung heroes and impart that same sense of gratitude to you.

The U.S. military is deservedly proud of our outstanding service members - active, guard, Reserve and civilian. We do a good job of recognizing these patriots for their service, achievements, performance and heroics. We conduct big ceremonies marking promotions, retirements, changes of command and redeployments. Many of our nations citizens also actively show their support for those in uniform - sometimes with a simple "thank you," other times by anonymously picking up the tab at a restaurant and then some donate their time or money to organizations which support those in uniform.

Unfortunately, we do not do as good of a job recognizing, and more importantly thanking, a group of unsung heroes - our military children.

The military child, unlike their parents who volunteered to serve, had no choice in their defacto relationship with the military. Because of their status as dependents, they deal with certain issues and stressors their civilian counterparts encounter far less often. The military child often has to say goodbye to old friends and make new friends as they move from assignment to assignment. These heroes have to reestablish themselves in their schools - deal with varied curriculums and rules, prove themselves worthy of playing or starting on a team sport or sitting first chair in the orchestra.

Sometimes their challenges include having to learn new languages and adapt to new cultures. And probably most difficult, during deployments they have to endure long separations from their military parent, and in some cases, both military parents.

For too many reasons, we overlook these military children. There is no medal to recognize these unsung heroes. No quarterly awards category or structure to nominate child candidates exists. The pace of today's military missions makes it difficult to stop to both recognize, and thank, these children for their sacrifices so their parent can perform their duties. Finally, military children typically handle all the previously mentioned issues with tremendous style and grace. So much so, that we take too much for granted and fail to recognize and thank them. We can, and should do better!

Let these heroes know we appreciate their sacrifices. If you know or have a military child - tell them "thank you." Talk to them about their experiences and their challenges. You might just find out something you did not already know; you may discover you have the ability to help them - you will probably be inspired by their stories. Perhaps even sit down and read this article with a military child. And if you do, please tell them this author truly means it when I say "thank you, you are my hero."