Growing up military

Military children all over the world, like dandelions, are able to thrive in any environment.

Military children all over the world, like dandelions, are able to thrive in any environment. Due to the resilient nature of the dandelion, it has become the symbol of the military child. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- A bright yellow dandelion bends and dances in the breeze on a warm, spring afternoon.

Suddenly, it's plucked from the ground by a small hand. The hand of a child.

After gleefully running toward their parents, the child bestows their treasure upon them.

Smiling at the sweet gesture, the uniformed parents thank their little one.

Simply a weed to many, the true significance of the dandelion is known to few.

Just as the dandelion seeds float on a breeze and blossom wherever they land, military children display the same resilience and tenacity to thrive in any environment.

As a child raised in the military myself, I would know.

My father joined the Air Force at 19 years old. Right after he graduated basic training, he married my mother.

Then in 1985, they were sent to his first duty station, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina.

It was there where my parents had my sister and me.

We all lived there happily before moving to Travis AFB, California, in 1995.

The Air Force then sent us to Aviano Air Base, Italy, for a few years before sending us to Edwards AFB, CA.

A year later, my father received orders to Hurlburt Field AFB, Florida.

After a couple of years here, my father retired, and we happily settled in Navarre, Florida.

Of course, life goes on and I no longer live at home.

I am often asked if I liked growing up in the military or what I thought of it. My answer will always be the same.

I wouldn't change it for the world.

Though it was not always easy having to move every few years or shorter and I may not have had the opportunity to be raised near other family members, like aunts, uncles, cousins or grandparents, I was given the opportunity to travel and see the world. I would not change the experiences I have had for anything.

I was able to experience other cultures. I tried authentic food from many different countries and made friends and lasting memories everywhere I went.

I know my parents may have doubted whether my sister and I grew up happy or feeling like we missed out on things they were able to do while growing up around the same friends and family during their childhood, and, to be honest, it was tough sometimes.

I did not always have my father around for some holidays or birthdays, but I always knew he loved me and was thinking of us.

I cannot speak for every person who was raised in a military family, but as for me, I will never regret growing up in the military.

Instead, I joined the Air Force, just as my father did before me.

In 2015, I was coincidentally assigned to the same first duty station my father was assigned to when he joined in 1986, truly allowing me to follow in his footsteps.

Now, my husband and I are raising our son while both of us are active duty Air Force members.

I like to hope and think my son will learn and love the same valuable life skills and experiences I gained.

Being raised and raising a child while in the military is a challenge, but it is one I am prepared to handle thanks to the lessons of resilience I learned while I was raised in the world’s greatest military.