Strengthening and Empowering Military Families (POINTS OF LIGHT- SERVICE UNITES SESSION)

Hannah, A Backpack Journalist, Interns, Backpack Reporters

 A Military Family Member’s Point of View 

Written by Hannah Rauhut

PREFACE:  It was 3:30 am, Washington, DC.  A loud noise awoke me.  However, first thought came to me was – Hannah needs to write about her experience.  What follows is what we at “Backpack” refer to as “narrative and creative expression writing”.  Hannah expresses her heart in the words that follows. She is a writer, and at only 14, can you imagine what words will flow from her in the future?  She was borne into a family that lives the true military life with great pride and patriotism.  Linda Dennis, Program Manager, A Backpack Journalist – Washington, DC , June 20, 2013.

Please read on – written by Hannah Rauhut (as she Covered the Assignment)

Hannah, A Backpack Journalist and Military Youth
Hannah, A Backpack Journalist and Military Youth

All eyes focused on Sheri Lapan, Blue Star Families,  as her words echoed through the minds of all in attendance. “Nobody volunteers like military families.”  I let this soak in for a little bit. As I thought about it, I realized how true this statement was. It’s like our lifestyle automatically programs us to not focus on ourselves, but on others. My hand scribbled furiously as I attempted to record as much as I could. The words poured out onto my pad as my brain tried to simultaneously process the words: stresses on children and youth.

I copied bullet after bullet: schoolwork/grades, relationships, bullies, life stage changes, interpersonal concerns, peer pressure. As I wrote down each stress, I created a mental checklist and was not surprised to find I could relate to almost every one of them. Joyce Hodson traveled to the next slide. “And these are the stresses placed on military children, along with all the other stresses of the average youth.”

I stopped copying for a moment to review the information for authenticity. In big font on the screen were the phrases:

transitions, connections, graduation, deployment, worry, media exposure, political bias, families with special needs, family restructuring.

Check, check, check, check.

Almost all of them applied to my life. But, I thought, it was all quite normal to me. Nothing out of the ordinary, or anything I couldn’t deal with. Actually, as I reflected, I realized I had come to think it wasn’t such a big deal.

I wasn’t sure what to think coming into the session. I immediately saw I was the youngest person attending, and after we went around the room and introduced ourselves, I realized I was one of few military brats. I felt even more out of place – yet not exactly in a negative way. Special and privileged, I decided, were more appropriate to describe how I felt.

Sheri Lapan, with Blue Star Families, Joyce Hodson, with the Military Child Education Coalition, and Kathleen Moakler, with the National Military Family Association, taught civilians as well as those familiar with the military about strengthening military families through various effective activities and examples. Besides Jessica and I, there were only a handful of us that had experienced the unique hardships of military life, as another activity Ms. Hodson instructed proved. The results were shocking to me as a military brat, and it opened my eyes to see that some people had no idea about the military lifestyle.

This life that had become second nature to me was an entirely different world to some. Not everyone knows what it’s like to have a parent deployed. Not everyone knows what it’s like to have to restructure your life every couple of years. Not everyone knows what it’s like to move to unfamiliar places.

The session was eye-opening, to say the least, and was humbling above all else because I also knew I had been given opportunities some of the participants were never able to experience. All because I am a military child.