Military families serve in their own way

Seymour Johnson AFB celebrates military kids and builds strong community ties

GOLDSBORO — When a military member serves, the whole family serves — even the youngest family members.Military children play an important role in the armed forces and their communities by overcoming challenges and sacrifices daily. According to the Department of Defense, there are more than 1.9 million military children in the United States with more than 765,000 with active duty parents. Military personnel on average move once every two to three years. Underscoring the important role military children play in the armed forces, their families and their communities was the reason behind the Department of Defense designating April as the Month of the Military Child.”I’ve lived in Arkansas, Washington State, Texas, Hungary and here (Goldsboro),” said Katelynn Harrison, 10. “It can be hard to move, but it gets better.”Katelynn has moved from station to station with her mother, Kaci Harrison, who now serves as the flight chief at the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Airman and Family Readiness Center. “We always have to move on short notice, but you learn to go with it,” said Katelynn.”Military children are resilient,” added Kaci. “They are able to adapt to changes and make friends fairly quickly. There are many services available to help children and families transition.” The Department of Defense set a goal to ensure all military children were able to reach their maximum potential; to excel academically, socially, and emotionally; and to ready for life, college and a career. In addition to the Airman and Family Readiness Center, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base offers Child Development and Family Child Care centers, a school liaison to assist children in adapting to a new school, and youth programming covering everything from dances, sports and fitness to arts, recreational activities and community service.”We celebrate our military children because it’s our way of saying we understand what you go through as well to endure what their parents do, go to war, move a lot, change schools, make new friends, leave old friends, this is a way of saying we appreciate the impact the military has on our youth as well,” said Jasmine Carroll, youth director. Carroll spearheaded the Fifth Annual Month of the Military Child Festival for Seymour Johnson held over the weekend for 800 children. The festival, with its rodeo theme, featured food, face painting, crafts, pony and horse rides, lasso games, a bounce house and more. “We always encourage member of the community to volunteer with us throughout the year. If you can be a tutor, play an instrument or have a talent to share, we welcome you and so do the youth,” she added. “The community has always been a huge supporter of the base which makes families transitioning here feel welcome,” said Kaci. Malia Chapman, of California, found her way to Goldsboro along with her children, two boys ages five and nine, and her husband, an active duty member who just completed boot camp.”The base has a lot to do for kids, which is important, as keeping them busy makes the time go by faster when a parent is away,” said Chapman. “Our oldest was scared moving here, but we told him he would be able to make new friends. Living on base and meeting people through activities on base has helped.” Carroll added,” Everyone in a military family moves and assists with supporting the mission of the military.”