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Military children appreciated

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Few Americans fail to recognize the daily sacrifices that military members make for their nation around the world.

They may not, however, recognize the daily sacrifices made by the children military members leave behind as they selflessly protect our nation.

A vast number of military kids must live with constant concern for their parents on a daily basis and are forced to become unbelievably flexible due to the length of deployments and the long hours servicemembers are forced to commit.

Their parents don't just miss a few of their games or recitals here and there; they are forced to miss months and sometimes even years of their lives. Also, military "brats" have their lives uprooted every few years when their parents get orders to PCS. That's a lot of "goodbyes" our kids are forced to make. And it leads to even more heartache.

The Defense Department recognizes this, which is why it has named April as the "Month of the Military Child." First celebrated in 1986, this month-long recognition is especially important today as a majority of our Air Force families are dealing with extended separations and deployments. Right here at Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, more than 100 of our Airmen are currently deployed in harm's way, and there's no end in sight for these anytime soon.

I don't think our children hear often enough how encouraging it is for us when we finally get home from a long day and they flash us a little smile. Our children should know that they give us strength each day to put on our uniforms and to do the "harder right" of sacrificing selflessly to secure their future and the future of our nation.

Our children truly are unsung heroes. This month is our chance to honor them and to show them our appreciation. But we aren't just paying tribute to the sacrifices they make, we are honoring the challenges they overcome on our behalf.

We will have a wide variety of activities for you and your families to enjoy this month. I want you to be sure to take advantage of them. Don't let these amazing opportunities to enjoy your family pass you by. You deserve some time with them and they certainly deserve some time with you. You all have certainly earned it.

Thanks again for all that you AND YOUR CHILDREN do.