The Washington Post

Frequent moves may be the biggest obstacle for military families


Sgt. Dennis Spence of Monett, Mo., gets a thank-you kiss from his son Cooper, 3, after bringing him home a stuffed bear after the 414th Military Police Company returned home March 10 after a year-long deployment to Afghanistan. (By Roger Nomer/Associated Press)

In what was the kick-off to The Mil Life, The Washington Post’s new chat series for military families, chatters told military child, spouse and mom Stephanie Himel-Nelson what they think are the hardest parts of being in a military family. Problems associated with frequent moves were among the most popular topics discussed.

For example, one issue brought up was the trouble spouses face when relocating for their significant other’s military career. Himel-Nelson said:

“It’s not just licensing in a new state (or country!) every time you move, it’s rebuilding all of your local professional resources, your client base or seniority, and frankly, your income.”

Relocating also affects children, particularly those with special needs and learning disabilities, who must transfer schools.

“I know I don’t have to tell all of you that when a child has to change school every two to three years, problems will come up… Teachers and administrators need to understand a bit more about the military lifestyle and the deployment cycle to make transferring as painless as possible for our kids.”

Ultimately, the voices of military families must be heard to ensure the stability and comfort of military families when it comes to frequent deployments, Himel-Nelson said.

“If a spouse, who may really have had no idea what moving every 2-3 years would mean, is unable to maintain a satisfying career, if the family’s children are struggling in school, that service member may get out of the military. Training and recruiting service members is expensive. If you want to look at it from purely a practical standpoint, it makes sense to listen to the concerns of family members about moving every 3 years.”

To see what other topics Stephanie chatted about, including secondary PTSD, helping children cope with a deployed parent, and learning how to reconnect with your recently returned spouse, read the chat transcript.

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