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A Military Child’s Journey


Before becoming a parent, I celebrated the Month of the Military Child with kindergarten students near Fort Cavazos (formerly Fort Hood), Texas. During that time, I taught young children enduring long deployments and the aftermath of the 2014 shooting incident at Fort Cavazos. Now, I’m a parent with boys of my own. I proudly share my oldest son’s journey as a military child to honor the Month of the Military Child.

Meet the Miltary Child

Month of the Military Child: Colton Brinsko

Colton: Expert Traveler

Colton, my 12-year-old born at Fort Cavazos, is a prime example of a military child’s unique challenges. Currently in 7th grade, he has already experienced five moves and attended four different schools. The Department of Defense states that “military children change schools an average of six to nine times from the start of kindergarten to their high school graduation.” Colton’s journey perfectly aligns with this statistic, showcasing the adaptability and resilience of military children.

Navigating Transitions

The most recent permanent change of station (PCS) in 2021 was especially difficult for Colton, as it invoked stress and increased social anxiety at school. The COVID-19 pandemic further complicated Colton’s transition to a new school in a new state. With schools shutting down and a year of homeschooling, he faced a particularly challenging time at school, exacerbated by the long-distance separation from his best friend.

A Military Child’s Perspective

Life in a Military Family

Growing up in a military family has shaped my life differently. You would only get the same experience in a typical family if you move a lot like mine. I think it’s cool to live in different states. Kentucky is my favorite place I’ve lived so far because there were friendly people there, and that’s where my dad was stationed the longest. I don’t mind moving because I can make many memories wherever I am. We stopped in Saint Loius, Missouri, when we moved from Kentucky to Kansas. I got to touch the Gateway Arch and go into the Economy Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank. I like to make new friends and live in different houses. Any house I live in feels like home because that’s where my family is, and my dog, Roxy.

Lessons Learned

I have learned how to keep in touch with friends whenever I move. My best friend, Weston, lives in Kentucky, and I live in North Carolina. We moved here in January 2021. It was hard for me to move that time because Weston and I played a lot together. Now, we use FaceTime and text almost every day. We like playing Minecraft together and can do that by FaceTiming. I also keep in touch with my friend, Jackson, whom I met in preschool at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. His dad was stationed in North Carolina for a couple of years, and it was fun hanging out again. They live in Alabama now, and we sometimes play the Oculus online together. His mom and my mom are best friends. 

When Dad Leaves

Dad has had to leave for work often since I was born. Mom says that after I was born, Dad left for six weeks for military training. Dad leaves a lot, but not for too long anymore. He will leave for a military school in July for 11 months. I used to be pretty sad when Dad left, but I am used to it now. I know I can text and Facetime Dad, but I will miss him when he leaves this summer.

Military Child Community Support 

A military liaison helped me when I moved to North Carolina and started 5th grade. That school year was tough because I missed my friends in Kentucky. Once a week, I spent lunch with a group of other military kids. We talked about any challenges we had and if anything exciting was happening. I was able to make some friends that way. It was nice to know that other kids in my school also missed their friends from the last place they lived. 

A Parent’s Perspective

While I may be biased as their mother, I am immensely proud of my sons. They embraced the military family lifestyle, adapting to it with remarkable resilience. Their courage and determination inspire me daily, driving me to provide unwavering support as we navigate this unique military life journey together.

Forging Relationships

At a very young age, my boys learned that close relationships can extend beyond family. We lived in a condominium community near Fort Knox, Kentucky, about six years ago. Most of our neighbors were retired and thrilled when a younger family moved in. The neighbors showered the boys with love and affection. 

Community Support: Sustaining Us Through Military Assignments

One of our neighbors relied heavily on Colton’s technology skills to fix his electronics. A couple of other neighbors sat with us at church every Sunday and always invited the boys over to ride bikes on their driveway, as there was more space for them there. To this day, we still visit those neighbors once a year. After all, they were the glue that held us together when my husband was away for military assignments.

A Military Child’s Adaptability

Whenever we move, I am concerned for my boys. Will they adapt to their new environment—a new climate (allergies!), house, school, friends, doctors, therapists, etc.? They never cease to amaze me. The last time we moved, Colton was nine and missing his best friend from Kentucky. To my surprise, Colton took the initiative and looked for other kids in our new neighborhood. He introduced himself, showed them where he lived, and invited them to play. Instead of letting the sadness of moving to overwhelm him, he adapted to his new environment exceptionally well (except for the allergies!).

Closing Thoughts: Embracing the Journey of Military Life

We actively navigate transitions and forge relationships with many people. Each move offers new experiences, friendships, and memories, highlighting the positives of a transient lifestyle. Despite being separated from each other, technology and community support help keep us connected and grounded. I am proud to be a mom of two incredible military children who embrace this lifestyle with positivity and strength. 

About the Authors

Carly and her military child, Colton.

Carly Brinsko is the Content Manager for Partners in PROMISE. She is the proud mom of two boys and resides in North Carolina. Colton Brinsko is Carly’s oldest military child; this is the first article he co-wrote. Colton currently attends a Montessori middle school. He enjoys hydroponics, managing his school’s greenhouse, participating in martial arts, and playing with his friends in his free time. You can reach Carly and Colton via email at carly@partnersinpromise.org. They would love to hear from you!



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