MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - They are photos we are all too familiar with by now. Photos of mothers and fathers in uniform wrapping their arms around their children as they prepare to deploy with the military, as well as the tear jerking reunion photos of homecomings.
The Department of Defense recognizes the month of April as the Month of the Military Child to celebrate those children who see their parent go off, many for multiple deployments, and too many see them never return.
The awareness month was established to highlight the vital and key role children play within the military community, as well as the role they have within the family.
"Military kids have to grow up fast because they take on duties to help maintain the household so the military parent that is away can stay focused on their job at hand in order to return safely," said Tina Mays, wife of Captain Brian Mays of the TN Army National Guard. "When families work together to support the military parent, it creates strong, healthy bonds."
According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, there are approximately 2 million military children, ranging in ages from newborn to 18 years old. Out of those 2 million military children, 1.3 million are estimated to be school-aged children.
April was established as the Month of the Military Child in 1986 by then-Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger.
Military children face a wide range of obstacles and a life unique from others their age. A life that includes permanent-change-of-station moves, deployments and training activities, constantly adjusting to new bases and towns, as well as unfamiliarity and uncertain schedules.
On the other hand, they often gain valuable assets such as a heightened sense of patriotism, loyalty, respect, and duty.