ARLINGTON, Va. — Guard kids differ from active duty kids in only one way: Access.
This means access to support programs and access to peers who understand what they are going through.
Everything else is the same: Missing their parents terribly when they deploy, counting the days until they come home and trying to keep their promise to “stay strong.”
Caylee Deakin, who recently organized the “Sisterhood of the Traveling BDUs” conference in California, was 13 when her father deployed with the Army National Guard.
“I had no friends who had anybody in the military,” she said. “I didn’t have a counselor who understood. I had my family, but no one my age. Of course, I had my best friends, but they didn’t know how to talk to me about it.”
Moranda Hearn, another “Sisterhood” conference organizer, said she felt isolated when her father deployed with the Air National Guard in 2007.
“My self-esteem dropped,” she said “I didn’t feel as confident anymore, which was really rare for me ... and I didn’t really reach out. I think that was an experience that many of us go through.”
Guard officials are reaching out to children of all ages with a variety of programs.
Below summarizes the programs and activities provided to Guard children by several military services and the office of the secretary of defense: