April: Month of the Military Child

Kaidence Williams

It’s not uncommon for many students to look around and see classmates they’ve known since elementary school. Some can even find faces they have known their entire lives.

For military students, however, it’s rare to see someone they’ve known for more than a few years.

Most military members are assigned to a base for 2-4 years at a time until they retire.

For their children, this means leaving behind friends, changing schools and adjusting to another new way of life.

“Making friends is hard. And keeping them, too,” sophomore Hailey Flanders said. “When you’re younger you don’t really have a way to keep in contact with friends you make, and you lose them. And that’s really hard.”

Students affiliated with the military make up nearly 20% of the school district’s enrollment, so out of 6,959 students, almost 1,200 are connected to the military in some way.

Military students at DHS have lived across the globe. Some have lived as close as Colorado and Virginia, others as far as Guam or Japan.

Freshman William Beugelsdyk is familiar with frequent moves.

“I was born in New Mexico, and about a month later I moved to Japan. Then I moved to Seattle, then to Oklahoma for a bit, came here (to Kansas), went back to New Mexico, and then came back (to Kansas),” he said.

Another struggle that some kids face is bonding with the parent that serves in the military.

Deployments can take military members away from their families for anywhere from several months to 18 months.

“My dad used to be deployed a lot, especially when I was younger,” freshman Isabella Skeen said. “The instability from him being gone so much made it harder to connect with my dad. And there’s definitely a disconnect between us now because we weren’t able to bond then because he was gone from home so much.”

One perk military kids agree on is the ability to travel around the world. Many get the opportunity to see new places and experience new cultures, food and unforgettable moments that can be once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

“I think England was pretty cool, but the rest of Europe was, too. Getting to travel through Europe was my favorite thing about living in England,” Flanders said.

Freshman Robbie Ashurst has lived in Kansas for his entire life, but his mother serves in the National Guard.

“I think some people don’t realize that (the National Guard) is really a thing, and that they do stuff like the military. I haven’t had to move around much, but some weekends my mom has to work, and then for two weeks in the summer she leaves for training,” Ashurst said.

Though military kids face unique struggles, most of them will agree that they are just ordinary kids with extraordinary experiences.

“We’re not all brats, we aren’t all base brats. We are normal kids, normal people,” Skeen said.