Story by A1C Hailey Bivens on 05/31/2019Tiny feet pitter-patter quickly across the pavement.
A small child runs up to their parent for one last hug before a six-month deployment.
The parent embraces their child.
"Make sure you take care of things while I'm gone," the parent says. "I'll be home soon."
Since the 1980's, April has been celebrated as the Month of the Military Child. Military members across the Department of Defense come together every year in support of these brave young leaders.
During the Month of the Military Child, Gunfighter service members and civilians alike give back to the children that impact their lives daily.
The Mountain Home Air Force Base Youth Center employees came together to honor Gunfighter kids at Stephensen Elementary School, April 12, 2019.
"At the event we showed our appreciation for military children and celebrated their strength and resiliency by cheering them on as soon as they got to school Friday morning." said Beth Mosier, 366th Force Support Squadron youth center recreation technician.
Gunfighter kids are encouraged to come to those they trust when times are tough.
They have many avenues for support to include:
- Youth Center employees
- Child Development Center employees
- Military and family life counselors
- School counselors
- Families at home
"The children often have to step up in certain situations if they have younger siblings," said Jennifer Clark, 366th FSS youth center teen and adolescent coordinator. "They have to be really flexible, strong and resilient."
Loving and supporting these children can help keep their heads held high.
"We thought even just celebrating them for what they do and inviting the base and local community to come join us could be a big impact on their lives," said Mosier. "We were there giving them high-fives, congratulating them and thanking them for everything they do."
It may seem like a simple act of kindness but it's the little things that can mean the most to a child.
It's also important to remember that children are constantly growing, learning and developing. One or both of their parents could be deployed at any given time, forcing them to grow up even faster.
"They're serving right along with their parents and make a lot of sacrifices too," said Clark. "They didn't choose this lifestyle and it's a time to honor them."