The Journey and Grace of a Military Child
Being a military child is not all sunshine and rainbows like many civilians tend to see from the
outside. It is a hard and rigorous lifestyle that we experience. Deployments suck, moving sucks,
friends moving sucks, having a parent gone for milestones sucks, and much more! If you are a
military child, I am sure you can relate. But it is also such a beautiful life that I would never
trade for anything.
My dad joined and served in the US Army right out of high school. He traveled the world at such
a young age and had many experiences. He was a military child himself – his dad served in the
US Navy. At the time I was born in 2002, he was in the Army Reserve and on a stateside
deployment in Missouri due to the events of 9/11. I’m what the military world refers to as a
“deployment baby.” Although my dad was there when I was born, he was not there for most of
my mom’s pregnancy and had to return to his deployment shortly after I was born.
Much of my childhood was spent as a civilian child. Within two years, 9/11 happened, he
married my mom, my younger sister and I were both born, and he had been on two stateside
deployments – and he was supposed to go on a third deployment to Iraq. Prior to the
deployment to Iraq, my dad had a knee injury and took a medical discharge from the Army
Reserve to be able to spend time with his growing family.
In 2009, my dad decided to rejoin the Army Reserve. He missed the comradery and the
brotherhood that the military offered him. In 2010, he was back to being a Soldier. This was
such a struggle to me as a young, 7-year-old child. I did not quite grasp what all was happening.
I just knew I was sad – an emotion many children tend to experience. I was sad that my dad was
going to miss out on what felt like so much of my life with his choice to rejoin the military.
I didn’t resent him for this though, I want to make that clear. I do not know of any military child
that expresses resent toward their parent(s) that choose to join the military. We have a sense
of pride that our parents chose to give up and sacrifice so much of their life to serve our
country so that we can experience the freedom we do.
Military children all around the world are to be celebrated. The resiliency they show each, and
every day is indescribable. Many military children experience so many big emotions at such a
young age. When I was 9, my dad was on a deployment to Afghanistan when he stepped on an
improvised explosive device (IED). He experienced a traumatic amputation of his right leg, a
degloving of his left leg, damage sustained to his right hand, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
At this point in my life, I was confused. I was hurt. I was sad. But I was also happy. I was happy
that in the explosion my dad was involved in, no lives were taken. I was happy that my dad was
able to come home to me. My dad was the one who experienced the worst of the injuries. His
specialist got blown into a ditch, and his interpreter lost his eye – he worked in a three-man
It was such a rocky journey from here on out. I experienced my first military move – my first
move in general. I was excited to move from Cleveland, Ohio to San Antonio, Texas. I was
warmly welcomed into my new school on base at Fort Sam Houston and I was surrounded by
the military community. But after a while, I was homesick. Ohio was all I knew for 9 years. I
missed the life I had in Cleveland, and the friends I grew up with. After the initial adrenaline
high wore off, I was distraught. It got hard to make friends. At the end of my fourth-grade year,
my best friend moved away. I was only there with her for five months. That was my next shock
of the military life.
Many children often struggle with moving away or their friends moving away. As military
families – and especially military children – we do not get to pick where we move, when we
move, or if our friends move with us. I have talked to children on my podcast, Grace of a
Military Child and Life, where children plan it out to where they are moving with their friends –
leaving their family behind. It is challenging to make friends and then move away from them
after just a few years – or even months. You never know when a move is going to come up and
where you are going next.
While it is a struggle, many pieces of the military life are special and unique. The life of a
military child is very exciting. We get to travel around the world and experience new cultures. It
is always fun to be able to try new things and meet new people! Many children love the military
life – it is why military children are twice as likely to join the military themselves. It is a hard life
to separate from. I am experiencing this now as a soon to be 21 year old.
When my dad retired after his injury in 2014, I was grateful for the time I did have living in an
area surrounded by the military community, but I felt lost without the military community
surrounding me. That’s why in April 2021, I started my podcast Grace of a Military Child and
Life. I wanted a way to connect back into the military community and this platform gave me
that chance to find my way back and serve the military children of this next generation.
Gracie Burgess is an Army Brat and currently works to give a platform on her podcast, Grace of a Military Child and Life, where military families can share their stories and connect with others that have gone through similar experiences.