Military kids: Nothing more important to us, or you

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- My wife, Lisa, and I, were "military brats." We know, first hand, what life is like growing up in the military. Today, there are 1.7 million American children who have the same experience as we did. These children face different pressures than other kids, and in recognition of this fact the Department of Defense has designated April as the "Month of the Military Child."

Going through a Permanent Change of Station move right now, both Lisa and I know how hard it is for children, especially teenagers, to leave the friends, families, and schools they know to start over again.

Over the past quarter century, we have moved so frequently it's easy to lose count. My guess is Lisa and the kids have not.

We certainly understand that family separations, especially those created by the ever-increasing demands that deployments are putting on Airmen assigned around the world, can cause anxiety and added pressure in the day-to-day lives of our Airmen and their families.

Kids - especially the younger ones - may not always understand why their parent is gone for months a time. They just know that Mom or Dad isn't home.

To date, approximately 900,000 of our military children have already experienced this with one or both parents deployed ... in many cases multiple times.

And leaders throughout the government understand.

"Many of our military children," as Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, said last week, "shoulder responsibilities and worries that make them wise beyond their years."

That is so true.

What is also true is the Air Force - as well our sister services - have a number of programs and initiatives designed to assist parents and children with the unique challenges only a military child experiences.

So please, if you ever need help, take advantage of the care our Air Force is ready to provide. From the classes and care available at the Airmen & Family Readiness Center, to the wide range of activities the Youth Center provides, to the family fitness programs found at the Health and Wellness Center and many others, your Air Force is here to assist you and your children in every way possible.

Lisa and I cherish our kids and want the best for each of them; we know you feel the same way. Take care of them. And thank you for all you, your family, and your children do.