Moving Us Closer To Osler
A Miller Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence Initiative

Military kids serve too 


April is the Month of the Military Child. Clinicians caring for military family members should understand their history and stressors specific to the armed service to give the best possible care.    

The sudden silence was palpable. An Army orthopedic surgeon, I had just informed our three young children that I would soon be deployed to Afghanistan. I wanted to casually mention that news like it was “no big deal,” but their silence said they received it otherwise. This wasn’t going as planned. 


I tried to think of something reassuring to say. The sun that rises here to start the day will be the same sun that rises in Afghanistan,” I said. A different part of the world, but still the same sun.” I wasn’t sure that it was helpful, but it was the best I had at the time. 


Overseas deployments are difficult for military families. While away, service members are not there to help their kids with homework, to cheer for them on the athletic field, to celebrate with them on birthdays and holidays, or to tuck them in at night. And the time difference makes it hard to converse by phone or video platform.  


In addition to the challenges of parental separation, military children may move multiple times while growing up. They have the added stress of leaving their homes, friends, and schools and starting in a new location, and sometimes a new country. 


April is the Month of the Military Child, a time to recognize the sacrifice of the more than 1.6 million military children and to understand the issues which may affect their health. While much of their care may be by active-duty clinicians, many military children are seen in civilian healthcare facilities by providers who may be less familiar with military life. To educate clinicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics has published a clinical report which provides guidance and references regarding cultural competency, impact of deployment, emotional-behavioral needs, and other aspects involved in the care of military children. 


The color purple was chosen for the Month of the Military Child as it represents a combination of the service branches’ blue, green, and red for Military Kids.


And that spur of the moment statement that my kids and I would share the same sun while I was away?  I was touched when I found out later my daughter used that quote in a school essay she wrote about the experience. Perhaps the message was received after all.




Resource to share with families: https://www.militarychild.org/resource/wellbeing-toolkit/ 






This piece expresses the views solely of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of any organization, including Johns Hopkins Medicine.