Rep. Markwayne Mullin
April is the Month of the Military Child, established to highlight the important role children play in the Armed Forces community. Particularly during this month, as a state and as a community, we should acknowledge the courage of these children who serve their country in their own unique ways.
Any soldier who is a parent will tell you that part of the success of their mission is knowing their families are going to be okay in their absence.
At the recent departure ceremony in Muskogee for the Oklahoma National Guard’s 1220th Engineer Company, Lieutenant Colonel Mark Clifton called military families the “unsung heroes” of any mission.
Captain Joshua Lawson, who will lead the 1220th in Afghanistan went even further and said the support of family back home improves the combat readiness of soldiers.
“We probably worry more about our families than ourselves,” Lawson told the families gathered that day.
The Month of the Military Child reminds us to focus particularly on the children of mobilized and deployed soldiers. The absence of a parent during a deployment or mobilization can be a very emotional time for military children.
Often the absence of a parent is felt deeply in life’s quiet moments and may not always be noticeable to everyone outside the family. For one child, the father who had always coached their little league team misses the entire season because they are deployed. Another child may really feel the absence when mom, who always tucked them in at night, is not there for that special before-bed ritual for the duration of her deployment.
For children of active duty soldiers, life involves moving around from post to post, having to repeatedly be the “new kid” in school and make new friends. According to the Army’s website, military families move about three times as often as their civilian counterparts.
Fortunately, Oklahoma has adopted the Interstate Compact for Educational Opportunities for Military Children. The compact simplifies issues such as the transfer of school records, differences in state graduation requirements, or missed entrance and exit testing due to frequent moves by military families. This at least helps ease the transition from a paperwork angle.
There are also children who find themselves “suddenly military.” These children are the ones whose parent is a reservist or National Guard member who are not full-time military but who have been called to serve our country. A number of children whose mother or father deploying to Afghanistan with the 1220th Engineer Company are now “suddenly military” children and nearly every aspect of their lives are disrupted.
Oklahoma is a great state and we help our neighbors in times of need. I hope the entire Second District rallies around the military children in our communities. We need to pray for them, serve them and recognize the special needs they have while their parent is away. It can be as simple as a card in the mail to let them know you’re thinking of them, or attending a ball game or dance recital as their special cheering section.
If there is any way my office can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to give us a call. My district staff includes a combat veteran and an Army wife. We work hard to serve our veterans and military families in whatever way we can.
In the end, the Military Child deserves to be recognized for the sacrifices they, often without even realizing it, have made to their country and to our freedom. They are part of the equation and unsung heroes to our nation. I know I am speaking for everyone in the Second District when I say that we are proud of them all.