- Posted April 8, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Salute to families
Month of the Military Child
April is the month of the military child and I thought this would be the perfect oppurtunity to share my story. I've grown to realize that my experiences have made all the difference in shaping and helping me to where I am today. My name is Vivianna Brown and I'm 19 years old. I'm a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin. I have a 10 year old brother, my mom is a SFC in the United States Army, and my dad recently retired as a SSG in the United States Army."The official flower of the military child is the dandelion. Why? The plant puts down roots almost anywhere, and it's almost impossible to destroy. It's an unpretentious plant, yet good looking. It's a survivor in a broad range of climates. Military children bloom everywhere the winds carry them. They are hardy and upright. Their roots are strong, cultivated deeply in the military culture, planted swiftly and surely. They're ready to fly in the breezes that take them to new adventures, new lands, and new friends.Military children are well-rounded, culturally aware, tolerant, and extremely resilient. They learn at an early age that home is where the heart is, good friends can be found at every corner of the world, diversity is second nature, and education doesn't only come from school. They live history. They learn that to survive means to adapt, that the door that closes one chapter of their life opens up to an exciting adventure full new experiences." I still don't know how to answer the question "where are you from" after almost 20 years of being a military child. For most civilians, the definition of "from" is pretty strict. It is synonymous with, "Where were you born and raised?" For me, this is two questions and my experiences doesn't lend itself to just one answer. My parents met in school and eventually they were seperated and stationed to different locations. They both ended up meeting again while being stationed in Germany. One thing lead to the next, they got married, and then there was me. It's not every day you get to meet someone who has both parents in the military. I have moved a total of 7 times in the past 19 years. For military children, it's something that we get used to and is one of the many reasons why we can adapt so well to various situations. I was born in Landstuhl, Germany and just a baby when we moved back to the states. We lived in Aberdeen, Maryland for a couple of years. We moved to Colorado Springs, Colorado before moving again 3 years later. I lived in San Antonio, Texas for 5 years. El Paso, Texas was the longest I've lived anywhere. We lived there for 7 years because my mom obtained a letter of stability so that I can finish high school at the same school. When graduation came along, it was time for another journey, but this time to the dorms of the University of Texas at Austin. A few months ago, in December, my mom received orders to be stationed back in San Antonio, Texas. At least my family would be closer to Austin rather than El Paso, which is about 9 hours away. Over Christmas break, after my first semester in college, my family moved again. It was like an inception of moves, a move within a move. I had just finished my first semester of college and was expecting to relax and spend time with family and friends at "home" over the break. I spent most of the break packing and saying goodbye. Moving around can be hard and exciting. You are exposed to different cultures, environments, and have countless connections across the nation and sometimes across the world. The hardest part for me was saying goodbye to friends and the place I called home, even if it was for a couple of years. Home is truly where the heart is! I've attended 7 different schools. 4 different elementary schools, 2 middle schools, and thankfully, 1 high school. Adjusting was sometimes difficult. I had to deal with different lesson plans, materials, and paces. This wasn't a bad thing though. My parents made sure I was attending exemplary schools, and was always engaged in my learning. The teachers understood my situation and always put in extra time when I needed to catch up and gave me extra material if I was ahead. I thank them for that! I was placed into gifted and talented classes and when I moved schools, my parents motivated me to continue the program. I was accepted to a magnet high school for engineering and science, and I continued challenging myself by taking AP and dual credit courses. I was able to graduate in the top 5% of my class and now I'm attending one of the best universities in the nation. I don't know where I would be today if it wasn't for my experiences as a military child. My younger brother has moved 3 times. He's very outgoing and can make friends in a matter of seconds. He's smart and also in the gifted and talented program. Our most recent move was devestating for him, because he had to say goodbye to his best friends. He's been adjusting very well and I know that all these experiences will help him become strong, well-rounded, and resilient just like they have for me. Deployments have always been the most difficult. My parents have served overseas at places like Egypt, Iraq, and Korea. Not seeing the people you love most for many months, sometimes over a year, is heartrending and tough to go through. When my parents were deployed, they missed birthdays, and holidays, but we never went through a week without calling or skyping each other. Help and support from family, friends, teachers, strangers, and resources and programs for military families, made deployments easier to endure. In the worst and most difficult times of my life, came the best and most memorable. The moments my mom and dad were finally back home and running to them in tearful reunions is something I can't explain. Those moments reminded me of the amazing bond and love we have as a family. I want to thank everyone for supporting our military and their families. It has made all the difference and means a lot to my family and me. Being a military child that grew up in a generation of war has impacted me in unforseen ways. There are times when it is stressful and difficult to just get through the day, but the love of my family and friends and the support from others has definitely helped me along the way. All these experiences as a military child, whether they were good or bad, has helped me to where I am today.