Living a life of unpredictability: the realities of being a “military kid”

Most people spend the majority of their lives in one or two places. They are born in one city, maybe move for college and then evidently come back to their hometown to “settle down.” But for military kids, moving upwards of six to seven times before the age of 18 is considered completely normal. This was the experience of students Sam Blair and Cristina Simpson.

Blair’s father is a Chaplain in the US Navy, while Simpson’s father is a Senior Master Sergeant in the Air Force. They both moved here in 2020 and have traveled all over the map as a result of their parent’s relocation. Blair was born in London, England and has lived in Chicago, San Diego, San Antonio, South Carolina, Virginia Beach and now Maryland. Simpson has lived in Ohio, Mississippi, and now Maryland.

While the travel has been incredibly difficult, and the two have had to re-adjust over and over, they both agree that they’ve gotten to see the world in a way that so many of us haven’t. 

“Not everyone can say that they’ve had local tacos from San Antonio, Texas, or seen the beautiful palm trees in low country South Carolina. Seeing all of these different wonderful places is exciting. That became clear to me when I talked to people at WJ saying they want to leave Maryland as soon as possible. These people have lived in Maryland their whole life, they have not experienced what it is like to live in a different place like I have,” Blair said. 

While the constant relocating allows military kids to meet all kinds of new people, it has its drawbacks and saying goodbye to a parent for months or even years at a time can be heartbreaking.

“The first couple of weeks it’s really sad when you realize he’s not in the same house as you anymore, he’s somewhere else,” Simpson said. 

Plus, when the entire family is forced to move as a result of military relocation, it can be really hard for the kids of the family to get acclimated to their new environment.

“It was really hard to adjust because you had to get up and leave after getting adjusted in another place. It also means moving schools which is hard because you only end up seeing your friends every couple of years,” Simpson said. 

Since being a military family is a lifelong commitment, many find coping mechanisms to get through these tough times. Without these outlets, the lifestyle would be incredibly difficult to maintain.

Whenever my family is going through something, whether it be a move or deployment, we are pretty good at finding ways to see the good sides of things. We treat ourselves: go out for dinner or watch a movie together. For me, in a life where change is always coming, I stick to things that are constants to make me happy: movies, games, music. Distractions. And when I do think about the situation, I am optimistically thinking about how something could turn out to be positive,” Blair said. 

Looking to the future, one decision that the kids of military officials have to make that is almost unheard of in most households, is whether they will enter the military themselves. For some, serving the United States of America and carrying on a family legacy is a quintessential part of their future. For others, and in the cases of both Simpson and Blair, the sacrifices that they have seen their parents make, have been enough to deter from entering the field.

“There is a running joke in my family I want to avoid being in the military as much as possible when I have control over my own life as an adult. Sometimes the best things about jokes is that they are true: At this moment in time I really do not want to be in the military. It’s is not for me. I’m a skinny theatre kid, and thankfully there is no pressure from my Dad for me to join. The reason why I don’t want to be in the military: the unpredictability. I have enjoyed seeing so many places, but I long to have my life set in stone as an adult. I do not want to be forced to move to a certain place at a certain time when I am an adult. I want to take the steering wheel and move where and when I want to,” Blair said.