KMC kids serve, too

by Col. Stephen Lambert
86th Airlift Wing vice commander

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”
— Joseph Campbell

We spend a great deal of time talking about the sacrifices men and women of our all-volunteer force make in service to our nation. The people of the U.S. are appreciative and grateful to us for accepting the challenges we face in today’s global environment and often use the word “heroes” to describe us.

But there are unsung heroes in our lives who face challenges just as great, who don’t have much choice in the matter. Active and Reserve, very young to older, from all branches of service; military children impress me every day with their ability to adapt in a constantly changing world.

April is the Month of the Military Child, a time dedicated to recognizing the contributions and sacrifices of our nation’s 1.8 million children and youth from military families, thousands of whom live right here in the KMC.

Officials estimate that on average, military children will attend six to nine schools over the course of a parent’s military career. It’s a life of frequent moves, often leaving old friends behind and making new ones.

Parents deploy into combat for months at a time, and may return with visible or invisible wounds of war. None of us, even those who grew up as military kids ourselves, can truly understand the challenges faced by today’s generation of military family members.

Of course, there is a personal side to this for me. We have four boys in the Lambert family — Andrew, Thomas, Joshua, and James. They have experienced their fair share of stressors throughout our lives together in the Air Force. Throughout all the moves and locations, I have come to believe in two things that have helped our boys cope with the frequent changes and numerous TDYs.

The most important thing for our boys is the security they derive from the commitment my wife Laura and I share for each other. They know that regardless of the external challenges that we deal with as a family, mom and dad will always be there — together — for them.

The second thing I have learned, time and time again, is that we tend to remember the positive experiences, even as the negative ones fade away. New places present new opportunities to build those memories, so I always encourage folks to strive to build those family-focused memories together.

To raise awareness and celebrate the resiliency of kids in the KMC, we’ll be holding a Month of the Military Child event at Pulaski Park, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday,

April 30. The combined community event is free and will feature all kinds of activities, food and drink, and entertainment for kids infant aged all the way up through high school. It’s open to all  kids in the KMC, so we expect a large turnout.
The organizers are still looking for volunteers, so please contact Kaiserslautern Outreach Services or 86th Family Services if you’d like to help with set up and tear down, or to run various stations during the event.

If you know a military child, I encourage you to take the time to talk to them, get to know them, and give them a friend if they need one. Together, our Air Force family can support our young heroes, and in turn give ourselves the peace of mind to focus on our mission in an ever-changing world.