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Growing-up Navy…

The following blog post was re-purposed by Jessica Faller, a military child and civilian public affairs officer at the Navy Office of Information. It was originally written as a speech in collaboration with Lt. Regina Caffrey, United States Coast Guard, while attending the Defense Information School in February 2011, and is intended to reach military children everywhere.

Family photo of Jessica (left) with her sister and RDML Craig Faller (a lieutenant commander in this picture), before a "Father-Daughter" dance aboard USS Peterson (DDG 969) in 1994. RDML Faller is currently embarked on USS John C. Stennis as Carrier Strike Group 3 Commander.

Growing up, all I ever wanted was the one thing I could never have: one house, in the same place that I would never have to leave. This is something that most kids never have to think twice about.

When I was in kindergarten, I told my parents my friends were like library books that I got to borrow for a little while but always had to give back.

The challenges military kids encounter involve frequent moves, the deployment of a parent, family separation and a constant state of change.  Deployments can last anywhere from a few months to a year.  You may wonder where your mom or dad is operating in the world, what it looks like and what they are doing.  You may even wonder if mom or dad will come home.

Homecomings often lead to a transfer or move. You, as well, have to transfer and find new roots.  Where will you go to school, what will you do for fun? Do they have the same type of sports and clubs at your new school? How long will you stay in this new place? Will you parents stay together through this move? Will you make new friends?

One of the toughest moves I had to make was in the middle of eighth of grade. My friends put together a goodbye scrapbook for me and one of the last pages in there had a quote that I still I carry with me today. It said, “you never really leave a place you love without taking part of it with you and leaving part of yourself behind”.

I realized along the way that home doesn’t have to be an actual place. Home to me is anywhere where my family can be together. I also realized my friends weren’t actually like library books and that I never had to actually say goodbye either.  I have managed to stay in touch through phone calls, letters, emails and now social networking. I have left behind a lot of places and people I love along the way but I never say goodbye.

The important people you meet along the way will always find a way back. This lifestyle wasn’t your choice but it’s up to you to decide how our military lifestyle will define who you are and who you become.

My dad recently deployed for the 7th time, my parent’s just completed their 19th move and even though I live on my own now, some of those same feelings I had as a kid never go away.

I will always have those moments where I just need my dad and regardless of where either of us is in the world, I will always miss him. I couldn’t be more proud of his service, honor and commitment and strive to replicate that those same values in my own life as well.

To military children everywhere: embrace the possibilities, meet the challenges head on, enjoy the benefits and keep your family by your side.  Look for the opportunities in life–as a military child, you are faced with new opportunities everywhere you go. Being a military kid isn’t easy, but if you ask me, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

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