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The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The official student newspaper of Walter Johnson High School

The Pitch

The life of a Military child at WJ

Lieutenant+Colonel+Benjamin+R.+Smith+poses+in+full+uniform+as+a+member+of+the+US+Army.+Smith+previously+was+stationed+in+Hawaii+before+moving+to+Bethesda+where+he+now+lives+with+his+wife+and+daughter%2C+Jael+who+attends+WJ.
Courtesy Joel Smith
Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin R. Smith poses in full uniform as a member of the US Army. Smith previously was stationed in Hawaii before moving to Bethesda where he now lives with his wife and daughter, Jael who attends WJ.

Over 1.7 million children in the US are sons and daughters of military parents. Thousands of these military families move from place to place around the world and some land in Bethesda. With its convenient location near the nation’s capital, many military families can be found in the greater DMV metro area and even some in the WJ school district.

Jael Smith
One of these families is the Smiths. Jael Smith is a junior at Walter Johnson and has moved all across the USA throughout her life. “I move every three to four years. I was born in Idaho and lived there for two months. I then moved to Missouri, then Maryland, then Hawaii and then we moved back [to Maryland],” Smith said.

Jael’s dad, Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin R. Smith, is an Army Ranger in the United States Army and a pediatric hematologist at Walter Reed Military Hospital.

Being a military family, the Smiths have ended up in unique places and have had a lot of different experiences. “I lived on a military base and the best way I can describe it is like the safety of the 80’s and 90’s when you just let your kid out because there is a very low risk of something happening to [you]. It’s a lot of spending time outside, running around and having fun,” Smith said.

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The nature of moving from place to place makes it hard to make each place feel like home. For the past few years, Jael has called Bethesda home; however, there is already the idea that she won’t be here forever. “You get used to it. For me, I’ve adjusted to it because it’s been such a routine of a different place every three to four years,” Smith said.

Although this would be frustrating for some, Jael has a different perspective on her father’s service and the life of a military child. ”You have to learn how to be dependent on your own and rely on yourself because you don’t get to control a lot so you learn to take what you can. Still, I’m very proud of my dad being in the military. First of all, he’s an airborne ranger in the army. Second of all, he’s a children’s cancer doctor,” Smith said.

Cody Herwald

Cody Herwald is a sophomore at Walter Johnson. For a good part of his life, Cody has been outside the US borders, living internationally on multiple occasions including in Germany and Portugal.

Cody is similar to Jael in that every few years his family packs their boxes and calls a new place home.“The life [of a military child] has its perks because free health care is nice, but moving every few years is hard,” Herwald said.

Cody has his own mindset of how he tackles the adventure of being a military child. “It used to be a lot harder [to move around] but I have gotten used to it. I start off with the attitude that if I don’t do well in this school I’m going to be moving anyway so I try to not worry too much about appearing well because I’m not going to see these people [again],” Herwald said.

Parallel to Jael, Cody also has found himself in Bethesda due to having a parent in the medical field. Cody’s mom is becoming a nurse for the military and his dad is retired after years of service in the US military.

Even with a life similar to a nomad, Cody has big hopes and dreams of what he’ll do after school. “Moving isn’t the life I want to live. I want to be an actor or do something in the arts,” Herwald said.

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William Murphy
William Murphy, Photography Editor
Sophmore William Murphy is thrilled to be a part of the Pitch for his first year as a Photo Editor. William likes to play baseball and watch movies in his freetime.
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